Month: November 2019

Bengals, A.J. Green Not Close In Extension Talks

A.J. Green has made it clear that he does not want to be franchise-tagged by the Bengals in 2020, but he is open to working out a new long-term deal. However, Green and the Bengals are not close in extension talks, sources tell Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link).

Green hasn’t played a single snap this year after suffering ankle damage during the preseason, and when he does return in Week 10 following Cincinnati’s bye, he’ll be catching passes from someone other than Andy Dalton. Fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley is taking over at quarterback for the Bengals, giving Green a different signal-caller as he enters a stretch of games that will strongly affect his market value next spring.

Green became the NFL’s highest-paid receiver in 2015 after inking a four-year, $60MM extension, but his $15MM average annual value now ranks 11th at the position. The former No. 4 overall selection will be 32 years old when the 2020 campaign gets underway, and Green’s recent injury history — at least six missed games in 2016, 2018, and 2019 — will certainly factor into his asking price, but he should still be expected to command a lucrative multi-year deal.

If the Bengals do franchise Green, they’ll be locking in a fully guaranteed one-year salary in the $18.5MM range. If Green remains adamant about not accepting the tag, he could potentially hold out next spring and summer, creating a dicey situation between a franchise icon and a Cincinnati organization currently struggling through yet another dismal season.

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Dolphins Designate OT Julien Davenport To Return

The Dolphins have designated offensive tackle Julien Davenport to return from injured reserve, the club announced today.

Davenport, a fourth-round pick of the Texans in the 2017 draft, started 19 games for Houston over his first two seasons in the NFL. He was packaged alongside two first-round picks, a second-round pick, and defensive back Johnson Bademosi in the deal that sent Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, and fourth- and sixth-round selections to the Texans.

Installed as Miami’s starting right tackle in Week 1, Davenport suffered a hyperextended knee and a small crack in his tibia in practice sessions before Week 2. Because he’s required to miss eight games after being placed on injured reserve, Davenport will be eligible to return to the Dolphins’ active roster in Week 10.

With Davenport sidelined, Miami has deployed J’Marcus Webb at left tackle and Jesse Davis on the right side. It’s unclear if Davenport will immediately reclaim a starting role, but the Dolphins could certainly use help up front, as they rank bottom-eight league-wide in both pass- and run-blocking, per Football Outsiders.

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Michael Bennett Will Be A 2020 Free Agent

Defensive end Michael Bennett signed a new contract after being acquired by the Cowboys that will allow him to reach free agency at the conclusion of the 2019 season, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Under his previous contact, Bennett was due roughly $2.25MM in salary and roster bonuses for the rest of the season. Now, he’ll collect “close” to $2MM in base salary and bonuses but can also bring in another $750K via incentives. And instead of waiting until the 2021 offseason to hit the open market, Bennett can now sign with a new team this coming spring.

As Pelissero notes, Bennett has already been paid $5.6MM by the Patriots, who acquired him from the Eagles earlier this year. New England gave Bennett a new two-year deal after trading for him which included a $4MM signing bonus. That bonus money will stay on the Patriots’ books following Bennett’s trade to Dallas.

While he’s still a talented player, the now-32-year-old Bennett had his role reduced in New England and also had issues with his defensive line coach Bret Bielema. The Patriots weren’t able to get much in return for the veteran pass-rusher, acquiring only a conditional 2021 seventh-rounder in exchange for Bennett.

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Redskins Request Review Of Trent Williams’ Medical Records

The Trent Williams saga has taken another turn. Earlier today, Williams told Les Carpenter of the Washington Post that the growth on his head had turned out to be a cancerous tumor, and blamed the Redskins for not recognizing the seriousness of the issue sooner. Now, Washington has issued a press release indicating it wants a third-party review of Williams’ medical records, ostensibly to remove any blame placed on the Redskins.

“The Washington Redskins have requested that the NFL’s Management Council convene a joint committee with the NFLPA to review the medical records and the medical are given to Trent Williams. We have requested this review under the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement that provides for an independent third-party review of any NFL player’s medical care. The Redskins continue to prioritize the health and well-being of our players and staff.”

Williams first noticed the growth in 2013, but he says Redskins doctors told him the issue was not severe. However, he’s since been diagnosed with Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans (DFSP), a “soft tissue sarcoma that develops in the deep layers of the skin.” This offseason, the Redskins sent Williams to a hospital where the condition was finally recognized, and he had an operation during the winter to remove the growth.

The most pressing issue here is clearly Williams’ long-term health, but it’s difficult to avoid how Williams’ latest revelation — and the Redskins’ response — will further fracture the relationship between team and player. Washington failed to trade Williams before Tuesday’s deadline, and the veteran offensive tackle subsequently reported to the club. However, he failed his physical after his helmet gave him discomfort. If the Redskins can’t find Williams a helmet in the next two weeks, he’s likely to be placed on the non-football injury list, ending his season.

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Le’Veon Bell: Four Teams Had Trade Interest

The Jets reportedly considered moving Le’Veon Bell ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline, and the veteran running back says the Steelers, Packers, Chiefs, and Texans all expressed interest in acquiring him. Appearing on his SiriusXM show “17 Weeks,” Bell said he heard through his agent that those four clubs were trying to trade for him, as Joshua Axelrod of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes.

Pittsburgh, clearly, is the most surprising possible destination mentioned by Bell, as he just left the Steelers organization after a tumultuous 2018 in which he sat out the season rather than play on the franchise tag. Given all that went down between Bell and the Steelers, it’s difficult to imagine Pittsburgh’s management re-acquiring the running back, even if he is now placated with a long-term contract.

The Packers, too, seemingly don’t make much sense as a landing spot given the continued breakout of Aaron Jones and the steady presence of backup Jamaal Williams. Houston, meanwhile, has already traded for two running backs — Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde — and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle says the Texans were not interested in picking up Bell (Twitter link). Kansas City has deployed LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams with middling results.

“The Jets were really asking for a high price and a lot for me,” Bell said. “On top of that, my actual contract was kind of tough for teams to deal with, which is understandable. Not too many teams want to pay that high of a price for a running back.

“To be honest, I was not trying to take a pay cut, simply for the fact that I sat out a full year of football to get what I earned and deserved. That would’ve kind of defeated the whole purpose, so I didn’t want to do that.”

Bell’s remaining salary in 2019 would have been manageable for just about any team in the NFL, but he’s owed more than $13MM in 2020 between his base salary and roster bonus. Most of that money is fully guaranteed, so a club like the Steelers (who have less than $4MM in available 2020 funds) would have been hard-pressed to take on that contract.

Latest On Redskins’ Trent Williams

The Redskins informed Trent Williams‘ agent that the left tackle passed all parts of his physical, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. However, Williams said that he was in pain (due to his surgery) after trying to put on his helmet, which the Redskins are considering as part of the physical.

The Redskins are now on the clock with two weeks to find a helmet that doesn’t hurt Williams. If they can’t find a helmet that doesn’t cause pain by the time his roster exemption expires, and he refuses to play, the team will be forced to put him on the NFI (non-football injury) list, at which point they can decide whether or not to continue paying him. In either case, as Rapoport reports, his contract will not toll, meaning that he won’t be tethered to the Redskins beyond the 2020 season.

The Redskins did not move Williams before the 2019 deadline, but there are rumblings that they’ll try to trade him this offseason. Despite the Redskins’ lack of leverage in that scenario, Williams could still fetch a decent amount of draft capital: he’s among the better tackles in the game and he’ll have just one year left on his deal at $12.5MM.

Williams, a seven-time Pro Bowler, has missed 13 games over the last three seasons due to various injuries. He graded out as the league’s best overall tackle in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus, and still managed to place No. 21 in a relatively down 2018.

Latest On Josh Gordon

The Patriots waited until Thursday afternoon to release Josh Gordon from injured reserve, and that was a deliberate move, as Albert Breer of The MMQB tweets. After the trade deadline, all released players are subject to the waiver wire, regardless of their service time. That means that Gordon, one of the most skilled wide receivers in the NFL, wouldn’t get anywhere near the league’s contenders. 

It’s possible that Gordon could go unclaimed on the waiver wire, allowing him to sign with AFC contenders like the Ravens, but that seems unlikely at the moment. As Breer notes, if Gordon walks from a team as an unrestricted free agent in March, that club could receive a compensatory draft pick for virtually nothing. The Dolphins, for example, have paid over $10MM for additional fourth, fifth, and sixth-round picks, so a late draft pick at the cost of $1MM in remaining salary to Gordon would be a relative bargain.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the current Top 10 waiver priority in the NFL:

1. Dolphins: 0-7
2. Bengals: 0-8
3. Redskins: 1-7
4. Falcons: 1-7
5. Jets: 1-6
6. Giants: 2-6
7. Broncos: 2-6
8. Buccaneers: 2-6
9. Browns: 2-5
10. Chargers: 3-5

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Patriots To Release Josh Gordon

The Patriots are releasing Josh Gordon from injured reserve, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Patriots feel that Gordon will not be healthy enough to play this season, but the wide receiver believes otherwise, so this move will give him the opportunity to hook on elsewhere. 

In Gordon’s estimation, he’ll be good to go sometime next week, or the week after. Because the move comes after Oct. 29, Gordon will be subject to the waiver wire. The league’s 31 other teams will have a crack at Gordon, and his contract, before he’s potentially able to hit the open market. Waiver priority, meanwhile, is determined by 2019 records.

By not releasing Gordon now, the Patriots may be banking on the talented pass catcher being claimed by a struggling team rather than one the defending Super Bowl champions will be competing with for this year’s title. Waiver priority is now sorted by teams’ 2019 records. The 0-8 Bengals will get the first shot at Flash, followed by the 0-7 Dolphins, and so on.

The former Browns All-Pro is dealing with two knee contusions, but his off-the-field trouble represents his biggest red flag for teams. On the other hand – he’s supremely talented and his contract has just $2MM salary attached.

So far this year, Gordon has 20 receptions for 287 yards and a touchdown.

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