5 Key Stories: 7/16/23 – 7/23/23

The opening of some NFL training camps capped off a busy seven-day period around the league. In case you missed any of the top developments from the past week, here’s a quick recap:

  • Commanders Sale Goes Through: The long-awaited purchase of the Commanders by Josh Harris was ratified during a special league meeting, and the sale went through the following day. That marked an end to the Dan Snyder era in Washington, with the embattled ex-owner being issued a $60MM fine stemming from the results of the Mary Jo White report. Her probe into Snyder and the Commanders found evidence of sexual harassment on Snyder’s part, and of revenue being withheld from the league by the team. Harris – already the owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils – will now look to take the team in a direction far away from the 24-year one it had under Snyder, marked by scandals and a lack of postseason success. The $6.05 billion price tag represents another North American record for franchise sales, comfortably topping Rob Walton’s winning bid ($4.65 billion) for the Broncos from last year.
  • No Deadline Deals For Franchise-Tagged RBs: Monday represented the final day for franchise tag recipients to sign a long-term deal. No such agreement came to fruition for Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs or Tony Pollard, however, putting them on track to earn $10.1MM on the one-year tender in 2023. The Giants came much closer to a deal with Barkley than the Raiders did with Jacobs, but the key question in both cases now is how much time they will spend away from their teams. Both backs have stated a willingness to sit out regular season games – missing out on $561K per week in the process – amidst their frustrations with the RB market. Pollard, by contrast, is obligated to attend Cowboys training camp having already signed his franchise tag.
  • Titans Win Hopkins Sweepstakes: Tennessee emerged as DeAndre Hopkins‘ destination when the parties agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $32MM. High performance thresholds are in place via incentives, but the $12MM in guaranteed compensation for this season helped convince the All-Pro wideout to join the Titans rather than teams such as the Patriots, Chiefs and Bills. Those clubs were unwilling to offer as much up front as Tennessee was, so Hopkins’ return to the AFC South will give them a signficant boost in the passing game. The 31-year-old will aim to put his injury- and suspension-related absences of the recent past behind him, while helping the Titans’ offense in the process. Doing so could lead to further individual accolades for the five-time Pro Bowler and help his new team return to the postseason.
  • Steelers Extend Highsmith: After a busy offseason seeing several additions, the top remaining priority for the Steelers was finalizing a second contract for Alex Highsmith. They did just that by signing him to a four-year, $68MM extension which includes $27.7MM in guaranteed money. Pittsburgh already has the league’s most expensive edge rusher (in terms of AAV) with T.J. Watt, but his sack partner is now on the books through 2027. Highsmith, a former third-round pick, has taken a step forward in production during each of his three seasons, putting him firmly on the radar for a new deal. Both he and the team expressed a desire to work out an extension before training camp, and with that business settled Highsmith can now turn his attention to continued progression and what would be a second consecutive double-digit sack campaign.
  • Engram Avoids Tag With New Jaguars Deal: Unlike his running back counterparts, tight end Evan Engram was able to land a multi-year contract to take the place of the franchise tag. The Jaguars signed him to a three-year, $41.25MM deal. The guarantees in the pact ($24MM) are roughly the value of what he would have earned by playing on consecutive tags, but incentives could allow him to slightly outpace that mark. The 28-year-old turned his prove-it Jacksonville contract into a career year with 766 yards last season, an impressive showing after an up-and-down Giants tenure. Engram is well-positioned to continue his success for the intermediate term and he should remain a key member of the Jaguars’ offense as they look to repeat their playoff run from 2022.
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