Month: March 2020

Chargers Sign WR/KR Darius Jennings

The Chargers are adding a depth piece to their receiving corp. Los Angeles is signing receiver/returner Darius Jennings, his agent announced on Twitter.

Jennings entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Browns back in 2015. He caught 14 passes for 117 yards in only four games as a rookie after getting promoted from the practice squad late in the year. He bounced around on various practice squads the next couple of years, resurfacing with the Titans in 2018. He operated as Tennessee’s kick returner that season, taking a kick back 94-yards for a touchdown and leading the league with a 31.7 yards per return average.

He was cut by the Titans midway through last season, but was re-signed in time for the playoffs and operated as their kick returner in two postseason games. The Chargers have Keenan Allen and Mike Williams at receiver but not a whole lot after them, so it’s certainly conceivable that Jennings will crack the roster.

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Contract Details: Funchess, Packers, Bell, Bengals, Vigil, Chargers

A few more recent contract figures to pass along:

  • Devin Funchess, WR (Packers): One year, $2.5MM. The $2.5MM is a far cry from the one-year, $10MM deal he got from the Colts last offseason. He got a $1MM signing bonus, $1.2MM base salary, and an extra couple hundred thousand in workout and roster bonuses. He has another $3.75MM in incentives available (via Tom Pelissero of NFL Network).
  • Vonn Bell, S (Bengals): Three years, $18MM. Bell got a $3MM signing bonus, with a $3MM base salary in 2020 and $1MM reporting bonus. He has base salaries of $4.1MM and $6.1MM in 2021 and 2022 respectively, with $400K in roster and workout bonuses in each of those years (via Albert Breer of SI.com).
  • Nick Vigil, LB (Chargers): One year, $2.4MM. Vigil had to settle for a prove-it deal despite starting 16 games for the Bengals last year. He got a $500K signing bonus, $1.9MM base salary, and can earn an additional $600K in playing-time incentives.

 

Latest On Broncos’ Melvin Gordon Signing

Having seen Phillip Lindsay become the first undrafted player in NFL history to start his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, the Broncos have created interesting optics by signing Melvin Gordon. In an offseason that began with rumors of a possible Lindsay extension, the Broncos gave Gordon an $8MM-per-year deal that ranks sixth among running backs.

I know there’s people going, ‘Why do you need another horse?’ Well, when you have an opportunity for Melvin Gordon to come in here, we felt like it was an addition to the team,” Broncos GM John Elway said. “He’s a guy that obviously has had a lot of success in this league. He’s scored a lot of touchdowns and has caught the football a ton. So we feel like with him — with Melvin, as well as Phillip — that we’ve got a great one-two punch, and we’ll only get better in the backfield.

Ultimately, we have to score more points this year. We’ve struggled on the offensive side the last two, three years, and so we’ve got to get better on that side. I think Melvin will be one of those key pieces to help us get better.”

Lindsay, whose two 1,000-yard seasons are more than Gordon’s one, reached out to his new teammate but may now have an uncertain future in Denver. No team currently has multiple backs earning more than $3.5MM AAV. Lindsay is set to make just $750K in 2020 — less than Royce Freeman, whom Gordon is essentially replacing in Denver.

This arrangement would seemingly be untenable for Lindsay, but the Broncos are not prioritizing a re-up for their hometown success story at this time. Lindsay, 25, is set for restricted free agency in 2021.

Gordon’s abilities as a receiver helped influence the Broncos’ decision, with Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic noting that new OC Pat Shurmur sought a more complete back (subscription required). Lindsay caught 53 passes as a junior at Colorado but has yet to top 35 catches or 250 receiving yards as a pro. Gordon peaked at 19 grabs in a season at run-heavy Wisconsin but has caught more than 40 passes in each of his past four seasons. Gordon surpassed 400 receiving yards each season from 2016-18.

Last year, Gordon turned down a Chargers extension worth around $10MM per year. He held out into late September before reporting, and Austin Ekeler ended up outplaying him and landing a Bolts extension. Gordon said if given the choice again he would not hold out.

I probably would come back just because — more so because of my legacy and what I’m trying to do as a player, my mark that I’m trying to leave,” the former first-round pick said, via Jhabvala. “Obviously, those are games that I can’t get back. Starting out slow and being able to catch stride towards the end of the season, but then it’s too late.

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Ravens, DE Derek Wolfe Agree To Deal

Hours after the Broncos agreed to re-sign Shelby Harris, their longest-tenured defensive lineman will head elsewhere. Derek Wolfe agreed to terms with the Ravens on a one-year deal worth up to $6MM, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The deal will guarantee Wolfe $3MM, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. Wolfe said, via Renck, the Broncos did not make an offer to bring him back.

The Ravens were thought to have finalized an agreement with Michael Brockers, but after it turned out the sides could not close that deal, Baltimore will pivot to another veteran interior rusher.

Wolfe, 29, said for months his preference was to return to Denver, where he played eight seasons. But the Broncos traded for Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey and opted to re-sign Harris after his market underwhelmed. The Ravens have swooped in and will add Wolfe to a defensive line that includes Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams.

While Wolfe was productive in Vic Fangio‘s scheme — registering career-high seven sacks in just 12 games — and was a starter for the Broncos’ dominant Super Bowl-winning defense in 2015, he has dealt with injuries throughout his career. The former second-round pick was not able to play in Super Bowl XLVIII due to a scary neck injury sustained earlier in 2013 and encountered more neck trouble in 2017. His 2019 season ended early because of an elbow injury.

The Ravens expressed interest in Ndamukong Suh, but he returned to the Buccaneers. Instead, Baltimore will add Wolfe on a team-friendlier contract. Wolfe signed a four-year, $36.75MM Broncos extension in early 2016 and played out that contract. With the Broncos, he totaled 33 sacks. Working with talented edge rushers throughout his career, the interior rusher registered at least five sacks in four seasons.

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AFC East Notes: Lawson, Dolphins, Jets

Despite Shaq Lawson being in trade rumors for much of his tenure with the Bills, the current regime was interested in bringing him back. However, it does not appear Buffalo’s interest in retaining the former Doug Whaley first-round pick was extensive. The Bills were open to re-signing Lawson, but Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic notes such interest was contingent on Lawson returning at a certain price (subscription required). But once the Dolphins guaranteed two years of Lawson’s $10MM-AAV contract, the Bills let him walk. Buffalo signed both Mario Addison and versatile D-lineman Quinton Jefferson to cover for Lawson’s exit.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Shifting to Lawson’s new team, the Dolphins received good news on the health statuses of two of their recent free agent additions. Emmanuel Ogbah said he has been cleared for football work for around a month but has yet to partake in workouts because of COVID-19 concerns, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com tweets. Ogbah will receive a Chiefs Super Bowl ring, but the defensive end’s contributions ended midseason because of a torn pectoral muscle.
  • Jordan Howard also will be full-go when the Dolphins reconvene, Wolfe adds. After a strong start to his Eagles season, Howard suffered a shoulder injury that derailed his momentum. He played in just one game after Week 9 but did not log any carries. Howard was inactive for Philadelphia’s playoff game. The Dolphins gave him a two-year, $9.75MM contract.
  • Sam Martin ended up signing with the Broncos, but the Jets were interested in adding the former Lions punter, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. The Broncos gave Martin a three-year, $7.05MM deal; Mehta adds the Jets were not budgeting that much for their punter position. Martin’s $2.35MM salary ranks 15th among punters. The Jets have opted not to re-sign incumbent punter Lac Edwards, their four-year punter, and Mehta adds they have remained in contact with former Dolphins and Bills punter Matt Darr. Ian Berryman, a 2019 Steelers UDFA, is the only punter on the Jets’ roster. The team remains interested in another addition here. Bringing considerable punter news to the table, Mehta adds that the Jets are doing their homework on Texas A&M’s Braden Mann — the 2018 Ray Guy award winner.
  • While things could certainly change in the coming months, the Patriots appear set to make Jarrett Stidham the favorite to be their first non-Tom Brady Week 1 starter since 2001.

Chiefs To Re-Sign WR Demarcus Robinson

The Chiefs are making a move to keep their deep receiving corps intact. They are bringing back Demarcus Robinson on a one-year deal, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

A four-year veteran, Robinson hit the market as a UFA. But the majority of the wideouts who entered free agency did not find significant demand for their services, with the upcoming draft class playing into this team-friendly marketplace.

Robinson’s deal is worth a fully guaranteed $2.297MM but, due to the new CBA’s veteran salary benefit, will count only $1MM against the Chiefs’ cap, Pelissero adds (via Twitter). Teams can sign two vested veterans via this method each year.

After a report linked the Eagles to being in the mix for the longtime Chiefs auxiliary wideout, not much known interest came Robinson’s way during free agency. He now will return to Kansas City, rejoining a Chiefs receiving corps that still includes Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Sammy Watkins. The latter has been a long-rumored cap casualty but remains on the team.

Robinson, 25, turned in his best season during the Chiefs’ first Super Bowl campaign in 50 years. He established career-high marks in catches (32) and receiving yards (449), hauling in four touchdowns. Since Patrick Mahomes took over as Kansas City’s starter, Robinson has totaled eight TD receptions. In Week 2 of last season, Robinson torched the Raiders for 172 yards and two scores.

The Chiefs entered Saturday with the NFL’s least cap space, so this Robinson pact will almost certainly be a low-cost agreement. It stands to allow the former fourth-round pick to return to one of the friendliest receiver environments in recent memory and potentially elevate his stock for a 2021 free agency run.

The ex-Florida Gator coming back also provides insurance in case the Chiefs do part ways with Watkins, who is the NFL’s 11th-highest-paid wideout but at best the third option on his own team. Watkins is set to make a non-guaranteed $13.75MM base salary next season and count a seemingly untenable $21MM against Kansas City’s cap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins, Bengals Interested In WR Cam Phillips

Following a standout showing in the XFL, Cam Phillips is drawing some interest from the NFL. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports that both the Dolphins and Bengals have expressed interest in the wideout.

The 24-year-old led the XFL in receiving yards with 455, and he also hauled in 31 receptions and nine touchdowns in only five games. Thanks to his consistent performance with the Houston Roughnecks, the six-foot, 202-pound wideout won a handful of Player of the Week awards.

The former undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech had a previous NFL gig, as he caught on with the Bills back in 2018. He spent much of that season on the practice squad, but he did haul in a nine-yard reception in two games. He was waived by Buffalo at the end of the 2019 preseason.

As we noted earlier today, a number of Phillips’ Roughnecks teammates have already signed NFL contracts. That grouping includes quarterback P.J. Walker, cornerback Deatrick Nichols (Saints), linebacker DeMarquis Gates (Vikings), and linebacker Edmond Robinson (Falcons).

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NFC Contract Details: Zuerlein, Poe, Shell, Vikings

We’ve got a bunch of contract details to pass along, all out of the NFC:

Falcons Sign LB Edmond Robinson

Another XFL player is heading to the NFL. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Falcons are signing linebacker Edmond Robinson. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure tweets that it’s a one-year deal.

Robinson was a seventh-round pick out of Newberry back in 2015, and he’s spent parts of three NFL seasons with the Vikings, Jets, and Cardinals. The 28-year-old has compiled 13 tackles and one pass defended in 22 career games, including a 12-game stint with Minnesota back in 2016.

The linebacker had a cameo with the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football, and he joined the Houston Roughnecks of the XFL back in October. During that stint, Robinson compiled 22 tackles and a pair of sacks.

The undefeated Roughnecks have seen a number of players opt for the NFL, headlined by quarterback P.J. Walker signing with the Panthers. Cornerback Deatrick Nichols (Saints) and linebacker DeMarquis Gates (Vikings) have also signed with NFL teams.

Giants Sign TE Eric Tomlinson

Eric Tomlinson is heading back to New York. The veteran tight end has signed with the Giants, according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (via Twitter).

After brief stints with the Eagles and Texans to start his career, the UTEP product spent two-plus seasons with the Jets. He started 24 of his 29 games between the 2017 and 2018 seasons, hauling in a combined 16 receptions for 193 yards and one score.

The 6-foot-6, 263-pound tight end was cut by the Jets at the end of the 2019 preseason. When all was said and done, Tomlinson split the regular season between the Giants, Patriots, and Raiders, hauling in a single one-yard catch in eight games (three starts).

As Raanan points out on Twitter, the Giants will be running a “tight end heavy offense” under new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. The team is currently rostering six tight ends in Tomlinson, Evan Engram, Levine Toilolo, Kaden Smith, Garrett Dickerson, and C.J. Conrad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.