Month: September 2019

Cowboys Notes: Cooper, Elliott, Fisher

Michael Thomas‘ new deal with the Saints isn’t going to make negotiations between Amari Cooper and the Cowboys any easier. Thomas reportedly received an annual salary of $19.25MM from New Orleans, and that figure will almost certainly factor into discussions between Cooper and Dallas. Despite that dynamic, the Cowboys haven’t made an effort to get in front of the rest of the market in order to secure a cheaper deal for Cooper (or Dak Prescott, Byron Jones, or Ezekiel Elliott, for that matter).

“We can’t push the issue unless we want to be a market-setter,” Cowboys executive Stephen Jones said on KTCK-AM 1310 and 96.7 FM, via David Moore of Sports Day DFW. “And we’re damn sure not going to be a market-setter because of all the things that go with being a Dallas Cowboy. We want our players to feel good about their contracts. But at the same time, we don’t want to do things that are out of line because we can’t afford to be that way. When we save money, whether it’s with Dak, whether it’s with Zeke, whether it’s with Amari, it’s not saving Jerry [Jones] and I a dollar. It’s just money that’s going to another player.”

Per Moore, Jones and the Cowboys told defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence during their negotiating sessions that Lawrence implied to accept less money in order to allow Dallas to account for other star players. Lawrence reportedly told Jones that fitting the rest of the Cowboys’ stars onto the salary cap wasn’t his problem to solve, and Cooper, Prescott, et al. could potentially take the same approach.

Here’s more on the Cowboys:

  • The Ezekiel Elliott headline machine continues. Per TMZ Sports, a new lawsuit alleges the Cowboys “conspired with police to cover up info from a 2017 car crash that would have sidelined [Elliott] from a crucial NFL playoff game.” The plaintiff in the suit claims he was hit by Elliott’s car just four days before Dallas’ playoff game against Green Bay, and further alleges the Cowboys didn’t want the accident reported because Elliott would have been placed in the concussion protocol, potentially endangering his availability for their playoff game. Additionally, the plaintiff is suing the Cowboys for damages, but as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explains, it’s highly unlikely Dallas gets dragged into this suit.
  • The Cowboys worked out free agent tight end Jake Fisher, tweets Todd Archer of ESPN.com. A second-round pick of the Bengals as an offensive tackle in 2015, Fisher is now attempting to convert to a skill position. Fisher, who played tight end in high school, has been limited by injuries and ineffectiveness throughout his career, and has started just 12 games in four years. He signed with the Bills earlier this offseason but was cut after two months on Bufflo’s roster.
  • In case you missed it, the Cowboys signed running back Alfred Morris earlier this week, giving them some form of insurance against Elliott’s ongoing holdout.

Panthers To Sign Tre Boston

Tre Boston‘s lengthy tenure as a free agent is over. The Panthers are signing the veteran safety to a one-year, $3MM deal, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.

For the second consecutive offseason, Boston had to wait until late July to land a new contract as a free agent. Last year, Boston landed only a $1.5MM deal from the Cardinals, so he’ll now realize a 100% raise for the 2019 campaign, one in which he’ll play for the club that originally drafted him.

Boston was a fourth-round choice of the Panthers in 2014 and subsequently spent three seasons in Carolina, starting 10 games in his final year with the team. He was cut with one year remaining on his rookie contract, and was then signed to subsequent one-year pacts by the Chargers and Cardinals. In both campaigns, Boston started at least 13 games, played at least 950 defensive snaps, and graded among the top 30 safeties in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.

In 2017, Boston was caught up in a stagnant free agent safety market which saw several starting-caliber players — including Boston’s new teammate Eric Reid — languish on the open market for months. This offseason, however, defensive backs Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu, Earl Thomas, Lamarcus Joyner, and Adrian Amos each landed at least $9MM in free agency, but Boston was nonetheless left without a deal.

Carolina can use all the help it can get against opponents’ deep passing attacks, and Boston — who is deployed as a deep safety on nearly snap — can help. Last season, the Panthers ranked just 29th in yards per play allowed on passes of more than 15 air yards, and finished 27th in Football Outsiders‘ DVOA against deep passes.

Some of the blame for that lackluster performance can be placed on Mike Adams, who served as the Panthers’ primary free safety in 2018. Adams, who last year at age-37 posted arguably the worst season of his lengthy career, was not re-signed this offseason. He’ll be replaced by Boston, who along with Reid will form one of the league’s most underrated safety duos.

Raiders Audition FBs Derrick Coleman, Tommy Bohanon

The Raiders worked out fullbacks Derrick Coleman and Tommy Bohanon earlier this week, tweets Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Oakland deployed incumbent fullback Keith Smith on 162 offensive snaps in 2018, good for sixth-most among fullbacks league-wide. However, Smith is currently on the active/non-football injury list after suffering a meniscus injury while working out on his own. As such, the only fullback on the Raiders’ roster is undrafted rookie Alec Ingold.

Coleman, 28, spent the 2012-15 campaigns with the Seahawks, but an alleged hit-and-run incident in 2015 kept him out of the NFL in 2016. He played 224 offensive snaps for the fullback-heavy Falcons in 2017 before spending last year with the Cardinals, with whom he mostly saw special teams duty.

Bohanon, a seventh-round pick in 2013, has appeared in 68 career games (30 starts) for the Jets and Jaguars over the past five seasons. While he isn’t as well-regarded a run-blocker as Coleman, Bohanon has offered far more versatility in the passing game. Bohanon has received 46 targets during his career, whereas Coleman has only seen 21.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/31/19

Today’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars

Miami Dolphins

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Waived: WR Daniel Williams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

This Date In Transactions History: Russell Wilson’s First Extension

A Seahawks quarterback. A self-imposed deadline. A new average annual value that ranks among the NFL’s highest. No, we’re not talking about Russell Wilson‘s recent extension with Seattle. We’re looking back at the 2015 deal Wilson inked with the Seahawks, a four-year, $87.6MM pact that contained $31.7MM in full guarantees.

Just as he did before his 2019 extension, Wilson put a deadline on his 2015 negotiations with Seattle. The former third-round pick told the Seahawks that he’d close down talks if a new deal wasn’t agreed to by the start of 2015 training camp. Similar to 2019, it’s unclear how serious Wilson was about his proposed deadline, but the gambit seems to have worked on both occasions. Although a report just a day before the 2015 extension was reached indicated that no deal was close, Wilson and Seattle agreed to fresh pact on July 31, 2015.

While he didn’t quite reach his goal of becoming the NFL’s highest-paid player at the time, Wilson did come close. His annual average value of $21.9MM came up just short of Aaron Rodgers‘ $22MM/year salary. In terms of fully guaranteed money, however, Wilson didn’t approach Rodgers, trailing the Packers signal-caller’s $54M in true guarantees by nearly $22MM.

At the time of his extension, Wilson had led the Seahawks to a 36-12 regular season record and posted a Super Bowl victory. During his first three years in the NFL, Wilson put up a 98.6 quarterback rating, 6.93 adjusted net yards per attempt, and averaged 3,316 yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions per 16 games. Seattle’s winning percentage has dropped in the four seasons since, but Wilson’s production has remained consistent. From 2015-18, he posted a 101.5 quarterback rating, 6.97 ANY/A, and a 3,918/31/9 line per 16 contests.

As in 2019, Wilson’s 2015 extension was followed by a new deal for linebacker Bobby Wagner. But while Wagner was retained, the Seahawks — who no longer had the benefit of Wilson on a cheap rookie contract — had to get rid of other veterans. Significant members of Seattle’s Super Bowl roster, such as Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Russell Okung, Bruce Irvin, and James Carpenter were either allowed to walk via free agency or traded.

Wilson’s current annual salary takes up 18.6% of the Seahawks’ salary cap, which could potentially affect Seattle’s ability to retain talent down the line. Clearly, when you’re lucky enough to have a quarterback like Wilson, you pay him whatever he’s worth. But as Wilson’s 2015 extension showed, there likely will be ripple effects that permeate the rest of the Seahawks’ roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Sign G Hugh Thornton

The Redskins announced that they’ve signed free agent guard Hugh Thornton, who hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2016 campaign. Washington also formally announced the previously-reported signing of offensive tackle Donald Penn, and waived center Casey Dunn and guard Tyler Catalina.

Thornton, now 28, was a third-round draft pick of the Colts in 2013. Over his first three seasons in the NFL, Thornton was a contributor, starting 37 total games and earning mostly positive grades — especially in the run game — from Pro Football Focus.

After spending the 2016 season on injured reserve, Thornton inked a one-year deal with the Falcons in May 2017, but announced his retirement just two months later. He ended that retirement earlier this year to play for the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football.

Ereck Flowers, who’d been filling in as Washington’s left tackle until Penn arrived, is penciled in as the club’s starting left guard. Despite Flowers’ run of failure in the NFL, it’s difficult to envision Thornton overtaking him for a starting job, but he could add depth to the Redskins’ line.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Tomlin, Ravens, Browns

Let’s take a quick look at the latest happenings from the AFC North, starting in Pittsburgh:

  • The Steelers gave Mike Tomlin a one-year extension (through 2021) instead of their usual two-year re-ups, and this one does not have an option for a future year. But the 13th-year Steelers sideline boss does not look to be on shaky ground, despite the franchise missing the playoffs last season and parting ways with two of the most talented players in team history this year. Tomlin, 47, also has no plans to walk away any time soon. “He certainly hasn’t put any sticker date on himself, and neither have we,” Steelers owner Art Rooney said, via Albert Breer of SI.com. “He’s still a relatively young guy in the coaching profession and has certainly as much energy and enthusiasm as he’s ever had. So I don’t think there’s any particular window that he’s going to coach through. He hasn’t given me any indication that he’s got any date in mind.”
  • The Ravens boast one of the NFL’s premier secondaries and auditioned another Pro Bowler who could potentially fill a role there. Safety Brynden Trawick worked out for his former team recently, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Trawick is known more for his special teams acumen, having made the 2017 Pro Bowl as a Titans special-teamer. But Trawick began his career in Baltimore, the former UDFA playing three seasons with the Ravens from 2013-15.
  • Duke Johnson‘s agent was in Berea, Ohio, this week to discuss his client’s complicated situation with the Browns. Drew Rosenhaus met with John Dorsey and assistant GM Eliot Wolf, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. Dorsey maintains the Browns are not going to trade Johnson, who has requested to be dealt out of Cleveland. For now, the passing-down back remains sidelined with a hamstring injury — one that could keep him out “a little while,” Cabot adds.
  • It looks like the best-case scenario for A.J. Green is a late-September return. Zac Taylor acknowledged the Bengals will likely be without their Pro Bowl wideout to start the season.

Raiders To Work Out RB Mike Gillislee

Mike Gillislee will participate in his third known workout for a team this year. The Raiders are set to audition the former Dolphins, Bills, Patriots and Saints running back, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The 28-year-old back worked out for the Lions and Jaguars earlier this year. He has not been able to replicate his take-notice work with the 2016 Bills, for whom he scored nine touchdowns and averaged 5.7 yards per carry as LeSean McCoy‘s backup.

After a three-touchdown opening night with the 2017 Pats, Gillislee has not been given many opportunities. He saw his New England role reduced as 2017 wore on and received just 16 carries in four games with New Orleans last season.

The Raiders re-signed Doug Martin and gave Jalen Richard a second-round tender. Those two represent Oakland’s top depth pieces behind assumed starter Josh Jacobs. Reggie McKenzie-era draft pick DeAndre Washington remains on the roster as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pro Football Rumors Seeking Part-Time Writers

We’re looking to add part-time contributors to the Pro Football Rumors Rumors writing team. The position pays on an hourly basis. Applicants must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Exceptional knowledge of all 32 NFL teams, with no discernible bias.
  • Knowledge of the salary cap and transaction-related concepts.
  • At least some college education.
  • Extensive writing experience, with professional experience and a background in journalism both strongly preferred.
  • Keen understanding of journalistic principles, ethics and procedures. Completion of basic college-level journalism classes is strongly preferred.
  • Attention to detail — absolutely no spelling errors, especially for player and journalist names.
  • Ability to follow the site’s style and tone.
  • Ability to analyze articles and craft intelligent, well-written posts summing up the news in a few paragraphs. We need someone who can balance quick writing with thoughtful analysis. You must be able to add value to breaking news with your own insight, numbers or links to other relevant articles.
  • Ability to use an RSS feed reader. Ability to use Twitter. Both of these are crucial.
  • Strong weekend availability is crucial. You must be available to work between 1pm-5pm central time on Sundays and frequently be available to work between 5-11 pm CT on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  • Flexibility. You must be available to work on short notice.

If you’re interested, email pfrapplications@gmail.com by August 12 (11:00pm central time) and take a couple of paragraphs to explain why you qualify and stand out. Many will apply, so unfortunately we cannot respond to every applicant.

Falcons’ Kaleb McGary To Undergo Heart Surgery

Falcons rookie offensive lineman Kaleb McGary underwent a cardiac ablation procedure on Wednesday, per a team announcement. McGary had this surgery twice before and missed approximately two months after the last operation while at Washington. 

The good news for the first-round pick is that the cardiac ablation procedure is a minimally-invasive surgery. The club will have a better sense of his timetable after he comes out of the operating room.

The Falcons used their first Round 1 pick (No. 14) overall on Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom. But, they weren’t done revamping their offensive line, and they refused to let McGary get away. The Falcons traded their second- and third-round picks to the Rams to move back into the first round and snag McGary at No. 31 overall, giving them an alternative to Ty Sambrailo at right tackle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.