Alliance Of American Football

Extra Points: Wilson, Vikings, McLeod, AAF

More details of Russell Wilson‘s landmark extension are emerging. Wilson’s 2020 and ’21 base salaries — $19MM apiece — will become fully guaranteed if he is on the Seahawks roster five days after Super Bowls LIV and LV, respectively. With that a near-certainty, Wilson’s $107MM in total guarantees are practically full guarantees. Wilson will earn a $19MM base salary in 2022 and ’23, according to OverTheCap. This deal leaves Wilson with cap numbers of $26.29MM (2019), $31MM (2020), $32MM (’21), $37MM (’22) and $39MM (’23). The eighth-year quarterback’s base salary was slated to be $17MM this year; the new deal converted much of that money into a signing bonus, with Wilson now attached to a $5MM base in 2019. The new contract raised Wilson’s 2019 cap number by just $1MM. Additionally, the contract includes a $6MM escalator clause — which would bring the total dollar figure up to $146MM — for Wilson’s 2023 salary, per CBS Sports’ Joel Corry (on Twitter). Unspecified performance-based incentives from 2020-22 can bump the Pro Bowler’s $21MM salary in 2023 to $27MM.

Here is the latest from around the American football landscape:

  • The Vikings are considering moving left tackle Riley Reiff to left guard, but it appears that is contingent on how the draft goes. Reiff will likely only move inside if Minnesota selects a first-round tackle, per Dave Campbell of the Associated Press. Reiff has only played tackle in the NFL. The Vikings “wouldn’t hesitate” to move center Pat Elflein to guard, Campbell adds, but that will also be contingent on the draft. Minnesota failing to add a center worth relocating Elflein would presumably nix that move. Either way, the Vikings’ embattled line will likely look a bit different post-draft.
  • Rodney McLeod will not participate in the Eagles‘ offseason program. The veteran safety, who tore his ACL in Week 3 of last season, is aiming for a training camp return, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Les Bowen notes. McLeod took a major pay cut this offseason, slashing his 2019 salary from $7.5MM to $1.5MM. That can become $4MM, should McLeod play in all 16 Eagles games, Bowen adds. He played in 16 games in each season from 2012-16 and had missed just two in his career prior to the 2018 injury. McLeod signed a five-year deal in 2016, but the contract is now a four-year pact. The restructure voided the 2020 season.
  • No last-ditch effort will save the Alliance of American Football. The league filed for bankruptcy this week. “Pursuant to the bankruptcy laws, a trustee will be empowered to resolve all matters related to the AAF’s remaining assets and liabilities, including ongoing matters related to player contracts,” the league said in a statement. The AAF abruptly halted operations earlier this month, leaving a messy trail of financial turmoil after an eight-game season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/17/19

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

  • Signed: OL Brant Weiss (Alliance of American Football)

Chicago Bears

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

New York Giants

Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Extra Points: Goff, Rams, AAF, Ryan, CFL

It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride for Jared Goff these past few years. The first overall pick back in 2016, a lot of people wrote him off as a bust after his disastrous rookie season. But Goff came alive once he was paired with head coach Sean McVay, and has now made the Pro Bowl each of the last two seasons. This past season, the Rams made it all the way to the Super Bowl but Goff had a terrible performance in the big game. There’s been a lot of debate the past couple of years about how much of Goff’s improvement was due to his own natural development versus how much of it was due to McVay’s coaching.

As such, there have been some rumors that the Rams aren’t completely sold on Goff as the longterm answer. McVay openly stating last month that the team wasn’t in any rush to extend Goff did nothing to quiet those rumors. But during a recent appearance on The Rich Eisen show, McVay pushed back on that perception, saying Goff doesn’t have to prove he’s “the man.” “I think he’s already the man. I think he’s had a lot of moments,” McVay said. “His teammates believe in him, his coaches believe in him. I think it’s just continuing to do what you do at a higher level. It’s ‘can I continue to make great decisions? Can I continue to make throws with accuracy and anticipation?’ I think the thing that was great about him really from the first year we were together to last year is the ownership. We talk about the quarterback being an extension of the coaching staff and I think he did that.”

McVay made it clear he’s happy with Goff’s progression, and tried to extinguish any talk about the team potentially moving on down the line. It would be a major surprise if anything other than Goff getting a huge extension happens.

Here’s more from around the football universe:

  • We have some more fallout from the demise of the AAF. Daryl Johnston, the former Cowboys fullback and commentator, was the general manage of the San Antonio Commanders, and now he’s dishing on what went down. Johnston said during a recent appearance on ESPN Radio that he and others were “misled” by the league’s founders about the financial stability of the startup, per Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com. “There were several people who took jobs with the Alliance because they were told they had two years, and they’re in a very difficult spot now at this stage. This was something that caught me totally by surprise,” Johnston said. Johnston also said there are multiple San Antonio businesses who have so far been stiffed on payments they’re owed, and that Bill Polian called him out of the blue on the day the league ceased operations and told him to immediately shutdown practice.
  • As much as Johnston might want to put the chapter behind him, it might not be that simple for him. In a follow-up to that piece, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that Johnston could now become a “key witness” in the multiple lawsuits that have been filed against the league. Florio writes that Johnston’s comments seemed to confirm the crux of the lawsuits, that the league’s founders lied about their financial standing. This surely isn’t the last we’ve heard of this process.
  • Free agent punter Jon Ryan might be getting back into professional football, but not in the NFL. The Seahawks’ punter for ten years from 2008-2017, Ryan had a workout with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL this past week, according to Rod Pedersen, the team’s announcer (Twitter link). Ryan was released by Seattle last August and signed with the Bills, but couldn’t crack Buffalo’s roster.

Bears Sign AAF Kicker Elliott Fry

On Friday, the Bears signed kicker Elliott Fry to a three-year contract, Larry Mayer of the ChicagoBears.com writes.

A former walk-on at the University of South Carolina, Fry recently played with the Orlando Apollos of the Alliance of American Football league, which recently suspended operations. He was a steady leg with the Apollos, converting all 14 of his attempts, with a long of 44 yards.

The Bears notably had issues with their kicking game in 2018. Those issues all culminated in the NFC Wild Card round, when Cody Parkey missed a 43-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining that would have given the Bears the lead on the Eagles.

Fry becomes the third kicker the team has signed this offseason, joining Redford Jones (reserve/future contract) and Chris Blewitt.

AAF Won’t Allow Players To Sign With CFL

The CFL league office notified all of its teams that the AAF will not allow its players to sign CFL deals, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). This is undoubtedly frustrating news for AAF refugees, many of whom are still without work. 

[RELATED: More AAF Players Land NFL Deals]

Over the last week, many players from the defunct AAF found deals with NFL teams. However, there are still many who are looking to stay on the NFL’s radar. For players on the fringe, the CFL is one of the best places to showcase skills, even though the north-of-the-border league mandates that players sign for at least two seasons.

The AAF, of course, is in breach of the playing contracts, so it’s surprising to hear that they still have the ability to stop players from pursuing contracts elsewhere. AAF players have not received a dime since the league halted operations earlier this month and some are said to be gearing up for a class action lawsuit against the short-lived developmental league.

Tom Dundon, the owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and the lead investor in the AAF, made the call to shutdown the upstart league largely because they were unable to negotiate an agreement with the NFLPA. Dundon wanted practice squad and other bottom of the roster players to be allowed to play in the AAF, but a deal couldn’t be struck in time. Many have speculated that Dundon bought into the league strictly for its gambling app technology.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/8/19

Here are Monday’s minor moves, with more Alliance of American Football players finding NFL homes:

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Signed: DE Karter Schult (AAF)

New York Jets

  • Signed: WR/KR Valentine Holmes (International Player Pathway Program signee)

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Signed: QB Luis Perez (AAF)

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: DT Winston Craig (AAF), LB J.T. Jones (AAF), CB Kameron Kelly (AAF)

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins

  • Signed: G Salesi Uhatafe (AAF)

Extra Points: Grant, Ravens, 49ers, AAF

Receiver Ryan Grant was involved in one of the more bizarre situations of last offseason. The former Redskins receiver looked like he was about to cash in big time, and signed a four-year, $29MM contract with $14.5MM guaranteed with the Ravens. But soon after, the Ravens slapped him with a failed physical designation and voided the contract, making him a free agent again. He ended up settling for a one-year, $5MM deal with the Colts. Now he’s on to a new team, signing a one-year, $2.5MM deal with the Raiders earlier this week. In a recent interview with Sirius XM, Grant dished on what happened with Baltimore and finally explained all the details.

Grant said the Ravens just got cold feet and that the injury that made him fail the physical wasn’t anything serious, just a “mild ankle sprain,” as he put it. Even though he lost out on a significant amount of money, Grant isn’t bitter about it and said he’s genuinely happy to be in Oakland. “I feel like, had I signed with the Ravens, they probably would have, you know, did some other shady stuff to get me traded or released or something like this. So I’m thankful that they did what they did,” Grant explained. “I’m happy where I am now. Super excited to be a part of the Raiders organization. It’s the spirit and the culture of the team. And it just feels like I’ve been drafted all over again. I’m just so ecstatic,” he continued.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • With Jimmy Garoppolo set to return from his ACL tear next season, the 49ers suddenly have a surplus at quarterback. Both C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens are on the roster, and both have at the very least looked like above average backups during their time on the field. Beathard is a 2017 third round pick from Iowa who has started games in both of his first two seasons, and Mullens is a 2017 UDFA from Southern Miss who impressed when he was suddenly thrust into the starting role last season. Both are on cheap rookie deals, and there’s been a lot of speculation San Francisco could look to trade one of them. However, Matt Maioccio of NBC Sports thinks the 49ers will end up keeping all three signal-callers next season. Maioccio also writes it’s “difficult to believe that either has significant trade value around the NFL,” which is a fair point. Both Beathard and Garoppolo have suffered numerous injuries during their brief careers, so it makes sense why they’d want the depth.
  • Tom Dundon, the owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and the lead investor in the AAF, made the call to shutdown the upstart league largely because they were unable to negotiate an agreement with the NFLPA. Dundon wanted practice squad and other bottom of the roster players to be allowed to play in the AAF, but a deal couldn’t be struck in time. Dundon has sought to cast blame for the league’s demise on the NFLPA, but Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com argues the union doesn’t deserve any of the blame. Florio casts Dundon’s case as a “flawed argument,” and breaks down why practice squad players wouldn’t have suddenly saved the league. Dundon essentially came in out of nowhere and tried to strong-arm the union, so it’s hard to disagree with Florio here.

Extra Points: AAF, Dundon, Lock, Broncos

The AAF decided to cease operations almost a week ago now, and we still don’t have much clarity on exactly why. All we know right now is that Tom Dundon, the owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes who became the controlling owner of the AAF with his massive investment after the first couple weeks of the season, made the decision on his own. Dundon reportedly made the call to shut things down over the objections of co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian. At the time, we heard that many within the league suspected Dundon had just bought a majority stake in the league in order to obtain the technology behind the AAF’s gambling app.

That isn’t the case, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Dundon “doesn’t own that technology, and his investment in the AAF doesn’t give him the ability to abscond with it,” Florio writes. While the gambling app theory appears to be a bust, it’s still a mystery as to why Dundon would invest tens of millions of dollars into the league, and then unilaterally decide to shut it all down just weeks later. One source attempted to explain to Florio that Dundon made the investment just to “kick the tires.” “Once he realized how expensive it was to own and operate a sports league, he initially tried to cut costs. But that resulted in a cutting of functionality,” he added. If that’s true that raises a whole new round of questions, as it’s hard to understand how Dundon couldn’t have realized how expensive it is to operate a league before actually making the investment. Dundon presumably had access to all of the league’s financial information prior to pulling the trigger.

Here’s more from around the football universe:

  • Speaking of the AAF, the league finally broke its silence yesterday. In a statement posted to Twitter, the league apologized for the abruptness of the decision. It read in part: “We understand the difficulty that this decision has caused for many people and for that we are very sorry. This is not the way we wanted it to end, but we are also committed to working on solutions for all outstanding issues to the best of our ability. Due to ongoing legal processes, we are unable to comment further or share details about the decision. We are grateful to our players, who delivered quality football and may now exercise their NFL-out clauses in our contract. We encourage them to continue pursuing their dreams and wish them the best.” The league has caught a lot of flak in recent days for how they handled the closure. Many players were left more or less stranded and forced to pay their own way home, and some were left with charges from hotel rooms and other expenses.
  • Drew Lock could be headed to the AFC West soon. He’s been heavily linked to John Elway and the Broncos with the tenth pick, and Lock will meet with Denver today, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). According to Pelissero, Lock will then head to Los Angeles and meet with the Chargers tomorrow. The Chargers sniffed around the top quarterbacks in last year’s class and are doing the same thing with this class, even though Philip Rivers just had his best season in years. If you believe the current reporting, the Chargers would likely have to trade up in the draft if they wanted to get Luck. Denver is slated to roll with Joe Flacco in 2019, but the Broncos are widely expected to draft a young quarterback who can be the future.
  • In case you missed it the other pro football spring league, the XFL, could be looking to target high profile college players for their upstart league, as they aren’t bound by the NFL’s draft eligibility rules.

AAF Players Free To Sign With NFL Teams

On Thursday, it was reported that players from the AAF were not yet permitted to sign with NFL clubs. Soon after, the AAF formally announced that its players are now eligible to join the country’s premier football league.

Initially, the AAF’s players were in a holding pattern – although the league suspended operations, their contracts were not yet officially terminated, which barred them from signing with the NFL. The AAF, which has taken a great deal of flack for leaving its players in limbo, moved quickly to 86 those contracts and allow them to seek employment elsewhere.

The move likely won’t undo the hard feelings. Many of the AAF’s players were reliant on housing accommodations made by the league and were kicked out of their hotels soon after the league pressed the pause button. They also won’t be paid out for the remainder of the season, which still had two regular season games and a postseason on the docket.

But, on the plus side, ex-AAF players will be able to work out and sign with NFL teams before rosters are further packed with the incoming draft class. Former NFL players such as quarterback Garrett Gilbert, running back Zac Stacy, wide receivers Charles Johnson and Jalin Marshall, and defensive end Damontre Moore could draw interest from teams in the coming days.

NFL Teams Can’t Sign AAF Players

The Alliance of American Football suspended operations for the season and its future is very much in doubt. Still, the league’s players are not yet free agents by NFL standards, Mike Florio of PFT hears.

Multiple sources tell Florio the NFL has instructed teams to refrain from talking to AAF players or their representatives. Furthermore, any team that violates that order may be in jeopardy of losing draft picks.

As of this writing, the AAF player contracts are still in tact, even though they will not be playing in any more games for the league and will not be paid going forward. Therefore, NFL teams cannot negotiate with those players until the contracts are technically breached.

The AAF isn’t exactly star-studded, but the league does/did have a handful of players who could be on the NFL radar. Players like quarterback Garrett Gilbert, running back Zac Stacy, wide receivers Charles Johnson and Jalin Marshall, and defensive end Damontre Moore will have to wait until they’re out of contractual limbo before exploring their next chance in the NFL.