Aldon Smith

Broncos Reached Out To Cameron Wake, Couldn’t Agree On Deal

The Broncos continue to seek replacements for Von Miller. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the organization recently reached out to free agent pass rusher Cameron Wake. However, the two sides were unable to agree on a contract.

Earlier this week, Denver lost Miller to an ankle injury that will likely sideline him for the entire season. While there’s *some* optimism that the veteran linebacker could return towards the end of the campaign, that hasn’t stopped the front office from approaching free agent pass rushers. We heard the other day that the Broncos inquired on veteran edge rusher Clay Matthews. The team was informed that Matthews is “not going to play,” but agent Ryan Williams later clarified that he was “unable to come to an agreement with Denver,” and his client “remains open to playing in the NFL in 2020, provided it’s the right opportunity for him and his family”

So, the Broncos apparently turned their focus to Wake, who earned five Pro Bowl nods during his 10 seasons with the Dolphins. The veteran spent the 2019 season with the Titans, compiling four tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 11 quarterback hits in nine games. When the 38-year-old was cut by Tennessee back in March, he indicated that he wanted to play during the 2020 campaign.

Denver’s offer to Wake was well off its Matthews proposal, Mike Klis of 9News notes. The Broncos also pursued Aldon Smith before the Cowboys signed him; Klis adds the team has not contacted Terrell Suggs or Ziggy Ansah about a deal.

Assuming the Broncos don’t end up signing a linebacker who can play this weekend, the team will enter the season with some question marks at linebacker. Former first-rounder Bradley Chubb has been working his way back from a torn ACL, and the team is otherwise relying on the likes of Alexander Johnson, Josey Jewell, Malik Reed, Jeremiah Attaochu, and Mark Barron.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Cowboys, Parks

The Giants are planning for Logan Ryan to help at cornerback and safety. Joe Judge confirmed Ryan will play multiple spots, and Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes the former Patriots and Titans cornerback is expected to work in a hybrid safety-slot corner capacity (subscription required). Ryan played just 22 snaps at safety — as opposed to 855 in the slot — last season, but late in his free agency stay he began to market himself as a safety. Ryan’s 113 tackles last year led all cornerbacks and would have ranked fifth among safeties. Giants DC Patrick Graham was with the Patriots during three of Ryan’s four New England seasons. Second-round pick Xavier McKinney was set to play this role, but the Alabama product suffered a broken foot. McKinney had surgery late last month and is expected to miss at least two months. But he may well return to team with Ryan later this season.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Shifting to another team’s safety situation, the Cowboys did not view Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as a starter, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Instead of keeping the seventh-year veteran around as a backup, Dallas cut baitDarian Thompson is expected to start alongside Xavier Woods, but Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie, Daryl Worley and rookie Reggie Robinson could see time there if necessary. The Cowboys could recoup $1MM if Clinton-Dix signs elsewhere via the offset language in his contract, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Players like Josh McCown, Johnathan Cyprien, Dion Jordan and Matt Moore accepted jobs on teams’ practice squads in recent days. But Jon Halapio did not want to play such a role. The veteran center declined a spot on the Giants‘ P-squad, Duggan tweets. The Giants brought Halapio back last week but cut him Saturday. Halapio, who worked out for the Texans last month, is healthy after suffering an Achilles tear in Week 17. Halapio began the past two seasons as the Giants’ first-string center; he started 15 games last season.
  • Aldon Smith collected a $100K bonus from the Cowboys, per Archer. That brings his total in 2020 roster bonuses to $440K. Smith, who has not played since the 2015 season, agreed to a $910K base salary that pays out just more than $40K in per-game roster bonuses. If Smith were to reach eight sacks, he would collect $500K, Archer adds. For 10 sacks, the former All-Pro would receive a $1MM bump. In the event of a less likely 14-sack season, that total rises to $2MM.
  • The Eagles placed Will Parks on IR on Sunday. The veteran safety suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him out up to six weeks, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. This year, teams can activate players off IR after just three missed games. Though, Parks’ timetable may run into October. The Eagles signed the former Bronco in March.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, McCoy, Cowboys, Prescott

The Eagles have yet to make an offer to LeSean McCoy, but some of his teammates would like to see progress on that front.Wide receiver DeSean Jackson and offensive lineman Lane Johnson have both expressed support for a Shady signing, as Mike Kaye of NJ.com writes.

I want to see it,” Johnson said about the notion of the Birds bringing back McCoy. “You already know how I feel.”

McCoy, 32 in July, could provide veteran support behind Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Then again, he’s not the only notable running back available to the Eagles. After rejecting a one-year, $3MM offer from the Seahawks, Devonta Freeman remains a free agent, though his asking price may have to drop before the Birds get involved.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • Some have argued that Dak Prescott isn’t worth the market-resetting contract he’s seeking, but Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com says the Cowboys would have a hard time replacing the quarterback. His argument, in part, centers on the Cowboys’ difficulty in identifying good young QB talent. Before Prescott fell into their laps in 2016, the Cowboys were aggressively targeting Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook, two players who have done little as pros. In 2014, Cowboys brass had to talk Jerry Jones out of chasing Johnny Manziel. Of course, they struck gold with undrafted free agent Tony Romo in 2013, but he was really the discovery of then-quarterbacks coach Sean Payton. Some have gone so far as to say that Andy Dalton could match Prescott’s production, but Barnwell isn’t buying it.
  • New Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith bulked up in advance of his NFL return (via ESPN.com’s Todd Archer). The former Pro Bowler says he “feels great” at 285 pounds, which is roughly 15 pounds heavier than his previous playing weight. In May, the NFL reinstated Smith, clearing the way for him to start fresh in Dallas.
  • The Giants could use an edge rusher, but they won’t make a late run at Jadeveon Clowney.
  • New 49ers tackle Trent Williams says he was legitimately ready and eager to play for the Redskins last season.

Cowboys’ Aldon Smith Reinstated By NFL 

The NFL has granted reinstatement to Aldon Smith, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). Smith will be allowed to join the Cowboys virtual offseason program next week, as NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo tweets, and he’ll be on course to join his new team in Week 1. 

The Cowboys surprised everyone when they agreed to sign Smith in April. The edge rusher hasn’t played in an NFL game since the 2015 campaign, but the Cowboys were encouraged by his sobriety and excited about his potential. Smith is a former All-Pro and when he was on top of his game, he was among the league’s very best defenders.

“I would say first-hand that I know that [Smith] is very diligent in his work to do the things the NFL looks at to reinstate,” Jones said in April. “I wouldn’t dare get into where the league is and how they will go about this process … [but] as a league, we really are bent toward the medical aspect of many of these problems or many of these things that have been in consideration when a player has to have some type of suspension. We’ve made it more medically oriented to where you can have good grades from doctors, and that weighs into being a player in the NFL.”

In his first two pro seasons with the Niners, Smith registered 33.5 sacks, including a league-leading 19.5 sacks in 2012. And, even when he was limited to just eleven contests in 2013, he still managed 8.5 sacks.

The Cowboys believe that Smith’s off-the-field trouble is behind him. That’s a good thing, because his rap sheet won’t give him much wiggle room if he runs into any issues. Smith has been arrested for DUI and suspended for substance abuse policy violations on multiple occasions. The Cowboys, of course, have been willing to dole out second and third chances to talented players like Smith, and they’ve gotten mixed results. The hope is that Smith will follow through on his vow to stay clean, and that he’ll be joined by Randy Gregory, who is also making his case to Roger Goodell.

Jerry Jones, Mike McCarthy On Aldon Smith

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Mike McCarthy spoke about new acquisition Aldon Smith today, and it’s no surprise to hear that both men are optimistic about where Smith is in his bid to be reinstated by the league.

Dallas, of course, shocked the football world when it agreed to sign Smith earlier this month. Though the move seemed to come from out of left field, we soon learned that Smith — who was in the process of applying for reinstatement in March — has been sober for nine months and that the Broncos were also interested in his services. The new CBA does not make reinstatement any easier for indefinitely suspended players like Smith, but Jones and McCarthy are clearly hopeful that the 30-year-old will be cleared to return in short order.

“I would say first-hand that I know that [Smith] is very diligent in his work to do the things the NFL looks at to reinstate,” Jones said (via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk). “I wouldn’t dare get into where the league is and how they will go about this process … [but] as a league, we really are bent toward the medical aspect of many of these problems or many of these things that have been in consideration when a player has to have some type of suspension. We’ve made it more medically oriented to where you can have good grades from doctors, and that weighs into being a player in the NFL.”

McCarthy, who first met Smith in December, talks about his initial impressions of the former 49ers star. “I was very impressed with everything that he’s done and his path,” McCarthy said. “I’ve always admired him from afar. Very impressive young man, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Smith’s contract represents a low-risk, high-reward gambit for the Cowboys. Though he has not played in an NFL game since the 2015 campaign, he recorded an incredible 42 sacks in his first 43 games in the league, and if he can earn reinstatement and work himself into game shape by the start of the regular season, he could become a key part of Dallas’ pass rush.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Giants, Love, Cowboys

Holding a top-six pick for the third straight year, the Giants have been linked to either Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons or a tackle. The Giants are immersed in thorough examination of Simmons, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noting the team is determining how he would fit in its scheme. Simmons saw action all over the formation for the Tigers but is viewed as either a linebacker or safety in the NFL. Some teams view Simmons as a safety. It is unclear where the Giants place him, though Joe Judge comes from a Patriots organization that valued versatility among defenders.

Regardless, rival GMs expect Dave Gettleman to select a tackle at No. 4 overall. Gettleman’s offensive line overhaul has not accomplished what he’d hoped, and a first-round pick could be slotted at right tackle before taking over for 2021 cap-casualty candidate Nate Solder on the left side. The Giants have been connected to Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs at multiple junctures this offseason.

Here is the latest from the East divisions:

  • Gettleman has taken his share of heat since becoming Giants GM in December 2017. He has, however, made some philosophical changes since taking over. He admitted to have miscalculated the Giants’ ability to be competitive in his first season as GM, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. From October 2018 to March 2019, Gettleman traded big-ticket free agent additions Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon while also dealing Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Apple. In addition to accepting this is a rebuild, Gettleman is now OK with negotiating contracts in-season, Schwartz adds.
  • Were the Lions to trade out of the No. 3 slot or pass on Jeffrey Okudah, the Giants may still pass on the Ohio State cornerback. Given the Giants’ 2019 first-round selection of Deandre Baker and their recent James Bradberry deal, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY would expect them to avoid picking a corner fourth overall.
  • A bold Dolphins strategy would be passing on a quarterback at No. 5 and preparing a Jordan Love move later in the first round. Other teams are convinced the Dolphins are intrigued by the Utah State prospect — whom Miami secured a visit with before the NFL shut down that process — but doubt they will gamble to that degree, La Canfora notes. The Dolphins’ actions over the past year and change have been centered around landing their franchise quarterback in this draft. Although they hold the Nos. 18 and 26 picks, it would be a risk to let Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert go in hopes of landing Love later.
  • The NFL’s decisions on Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith are not expected to come until after the draft, but the Cowboys may have some different plans for them under DC Mike Nolan than they would have under Rod Marinelli. Instead of using their edge defenders as pure 4-3 defensive ends, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said (via USA Today’s Jori Epstein) he could envision Smith and Gregory as hybrid-type players who rush from linebacker positions as well as defensive end slots. Gregory has only played defensive end as a pro, while Smith has mostly worked as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Latest On Aldon Smith, Randy Gregory

Cowboys defenders Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory will probably have to wait until after the draft to see if they’re cleared to play by the NFL, ESPN.com’s Ed Werder hears. Both players are under suspension for substance abuse policy violations and they won’t be able to take the field unless Roger Goodell gives them the green light. 

[RELATED: Latest On Cowboys, Prescott]

Smith hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since his 2015 season with the Raiders due to off-the-field trouble and personal issues. Before that downward trend, Smith was one of the league’s brightest stars. In his first two pro seasons, Smith notched 33.5 sacks. And, even when he was limited to just eleven games in 2013, he still managed to bring down the QB 8.5 times.

For the last few years, Smith has mostly been off of the NFL radar. Then, this offseason, the Cowboys gave him a chance at redemption. Smith is set to earn just $2MM in base salary, plus another $2MM in sack incentives, but the deal is completely non-guaranteed. If Smith isn’t cleared to play, he won’t get paid.

Gregory has also been plagued by personal issues – he’s played a grand total of 28 games across five years with the Cowboys. Jerry Jones has stood by the former second round pick and, this year, he’s especially hopeful that Gregory will be able to stay on the right track. Without Robert Quinn, the Cowboys badly need the help.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Smith, Eagles

The Cowboys gave Aldon Smith another chance in the NFL by signing him to a one-year deal earlier this month. Although the Cowboys have been known to take chances on players with off-the-field issues, the move surprised many. Smith remains indefinitely suspended by the NFL, so it’s not a given that he’ll be allowed to take the field in 2020.

Smith has reportedly been clean and sober for the past nine months. In an interview with Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (Twitter link), Smith opened up about his troubled past and vowed to make the most of his opportunity.

I would say 2018 was a tough year,” Smith confessed. “In that year, I was in a really dark place…I was sleeping under a car for some nights because my sickness took me there. And I had a home to sleep in. But I was in such a dark place that I didn’t see myself deserving anything other than that.”

Now, Smith will look to get back to his All-Pro form in Dallas. A refresher: Smith managed 14 sacks as a rookie in 2011 and earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 2012 as he registered 19.5 sacks and helped the Niners reach Super Bowl XLVII.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • The Eagles seem likely to target wide receivers in the draft, but Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports believes that they should also explore veteran options in free agency. Recently, the Eagles have watched receivers like Robby Anderson and Breshad Perriman signed to cheaper-than-expected contracts and Zangaro feels that Howie Roseman should take advantage of WR value deals in the next wave. Still, it’s important to note the Eagles’ cap limitations – although they have ~$30MM to work with in 2020, the Birds are way over the cap for 2021. That means they’ll have to try for one-year deals with most free agents.
  • Even if the Giants want to trade back from No. 4, the offers will probably be disappointing, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano writes. If the Lions move back from No. 3 by trading with the Chargers or Dolphins, Vacchiano reasons that the other club will be fine with standing pat – that means the Giants wouldn’t get a whole lot for their choice. Even though the Giants have multiple needs to address, staying at No. 4 wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. With that pick, they could have the opportunity to take any non-QB besides Ohio State’s Chase Young. In that scenario, versatile Clemson defender Isaiah Simmons and Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs would both be there for the taking.
  • The Redskins are among the clubs with interest in Utah State’s Jordan Love. The Patriots, Saints, Packers, Chargers, and Dolphins are also intrigued by Love’s pure mechanics and it’s possible that he could wind up as a first-round choice.

Broncos Pursued Aldon Smith

The Cowboys shockingly pulled Aldon Smith out of football purgatory a couple weeks ago, and they apparently weren’t the only team in on the former All-Pro. The Broncos pursued Smith and the two sides had mutual interest for a while, sources told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News.

Klis points out that Broncos head coach Vic Fangio was Smith’s defensive coordinator during his best seasons in San Francisco, which explains the connection. Ultimately, financials led Smith to go with Dallas. Klis reports that the Broncos only made a “vet-minimum/incentive-laden offer” to Smith, while the Cowboys gave him a one-year contract with a base value of $2MM and an additional $2MM available in sack incentives.

If Smith had been able to get anywhere close to his old heights, he would’ve formed a scary pass-rushing trio in Denver alongside fellow former first-round picks Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. The seventh overall pick of the 2011 draft, Smith was one of the best defensive players in the league before a series of arrests and substance abuse issues derailed his career. He led the league in sacks in 2012 with 19.5.

He hasn’t played in a game since the 2015 season, so it’ll be very interesting to see what the 30-year-old looks like when he steps on the field. The Broncos lost Derek Wolfe, who had seven sacks last year, in free agency, so Smith would’ve been a nice high-upside addition to bolster the defensive front.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Details On Aldon Smith’s Cowboys Contract

The Cowboys shocked the NFL world on Wednesday by agreeing to a one-year deal with edge rusher Aldon Smith, who hasn’t played in the league since November 2015. As expected, Smith’s pact doesn’t contain any guaranteed money, but Todd Archer of ESPN.com (Twitter links) has outlined the parameters of Smith’s contract, which could potentially net the 30-year-old $4MM.

In order to earn any money whatsoever, Smith must obviously be reinstated by the NFL. The former first-round pick applied for reinstatement last month, and if/when the league allows him to play, Smith will collect $90K from Dallas, per Archer. He’ll then collect a series of bonuses as follows:

  • 30 days after reinstatement: $50K
  • Start of training camp: $100K
  • After two preseason games: $100K
  • End of preseason: $100K

Clearly, the NFL’s training camp and preseason schedule could possibly altered due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But if the league’s scheduled goes according to plan, Smith will have earned $440K by the conclusion of the preseason. If the Cowboys released him at that point, they’d be on the hook for that total.

Once the regular season begins, Smith’s contract will follow a slightly more typical structure, accordibng to Archer:

  • Base salary: $910K
  • $40,625K in per-game roster bonuses, totaling $650K for the season
  • Sack incentives up to $2MM
    • Eight sacks: $500K
    • 10 sacks: $1MM
    • 12 sacks: $1.5MM
    • 14 sacks: $2MM

Because Smith didn’t play in the NFL in 2019, those incentives are considered “not likely to be earned” and thus do not count against the Cowboys’ salary cap. Smith would likely have to play at something close to an All-Pro level in order to reach every incentive, but he did meet or exceed 14 sacks in each of his first two NFL campaigns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.