Billy Price

Giants Place G Shane Lemieux On IR

The knee injury Shane Lemieux suffered in late July has continued to plague him, and the Giants will give the young guard time to recover. They placed Lemieux on IR Thursday.

Inserted into the Giants’ starting lineup after Will Hernandez‘s COVID-19 contraction last year, Lemieux did not give up the job the rest of the way. After New York released Kevin Zeitler this offseason, Lemieux and Hernandez started in Week 1. Surgery may be in the cards for Lemieux, though that is not yet certain. The 2020 fifth-round pick playing again this season would be a surprise, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

[RELATED: Giants Promote Matt Skura]

Lemieux’s injury will force the Giants to get creative on their offensive line. They are set to start recent trade acquisition Billy Price at center and slide Nick Gates to left guard, Raanan notes. Such a promotion occurring in Week 2, which features a short week and a trip to Washington, will represent a stiff challenge for Price. The former first-round pick could not stick in the Bengals’ lineup, despite the team’s lofty investment, and was traded to the Giants for a late-round pick.

Lemieux could not make it through the first half against the Broncos, playing only 17 snaps. Ben Bredeson, the other O-line trade acquisition the Giants made ahead of the season, replaced him in the lineup. But the ex-Raven is set to return to a reserve role tonight.

Considering the issues the Giants had up front with their starting five available over the past several weeks, the team needing to make changes ahead of a Thursday road tilt is certainly bad news. The Giants are looking to avoid an 0-2 start for the first time since 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants To Trade B.J. Hill To Bengals For Billy Price

We’ve got another trade to report! Not too long after the Bills dealt Darryl Johnson to the Panthers, the Giants and Bengals have pulled off an interesting swap. New York has agreed to trade defensive lineman B.J. Hill, head coach Joe Judge announced to the media on Monday.

Right after Judge said Hill would be traded, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted that it was to the Bengals for offensive lineman Billy Price. The Bengals will also get a conditional seventh-round pick in the deal, Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News notes in a tweet. In a follow-up tweet, Rapoport notes that Price has been a “key name” in trade talks recently, and that the Giants were searching for O-line depth.

Price wasn’t the only Bengals lineman on the block, as Albert Breer of SI.com tweets that Cincy also had discussions about guard Michael Jordan. He adds that the Jaguars joined the Giants as teams calling around about interior offensive line help this week.

A former first-rounder, Price was the 18th overall pick back in 2018. Cincinnati declined his fifth-year option this past offseason, meaning he’ll be a free agent after this season. The Ohio State product never lived up to his draft status, and could benefit from the change in scenery.

He was Cincy’s starter at center as a rookie, then moved to guard and only started eight games in 2019. This past season he was mostly a reserve, only starting one game. Hill was a third-round pick back in 2018, and also declined after his rookie year.

In his first pro season he had 5.5 sacks while starting 12 games, but over the past two years he’s had just two total sacks while being reduced to a rotational role. It makes sense for both sides, with each addressing an area of need.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2022 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 3 to officially pick up their options on 2018 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. In a change from years past, fifth-year option seasons are fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement, and specific performance metrics:

  • 2-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • 1-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

Updated 4-30-21, 4:24pm CT

  1. QB Baker Mayfield, Browns: Exercised ($18.858MM)
  2. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants: Exercised ($7.217MM)
  3. QB Sam Darnold, Panthers (via Jets): Pending ($18.858MM)
  4. CB Denzel Ward, Browns — Exercised ($13.294MM)
  5. LB Bradley Chubb, Broncos — Pending ($12.716MM)
  6. G Quenton Nelson, Colts — Pending ($13.754MM)
  7. QB Josh Allen, Bills: Pending ($23.106MM)
  8. LB Roquan Smith, Bears: Exercised ($9.735MM)
  9. OT Mike McGlinchey, 49ers: Exercised ($10.88MM)
  10. QB Josh Rosen, Cardinals: N/A
  11. S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers (via Dolphins): Exercised ($10.612MM)
  12. DT Vita Vea, Buccaneers: Exercised ($7.638MM)
  13. DT Daron Payne, Washington — Exercised ($8.529MM)
  14. DE Marcus Davenport, Saints: Exercised ($9.553MM)
  15. OT Kolton Miller, Raiders — N/A (extension)
  16. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Bills: Pending ($12.716MM)
  17. S Derwin James, Chargers: Exercised ($9.052MM)
  18. CB Jaire Alexander, Packers: Exercised ($13.294MM)
  19. LB Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys: Pending ($9.145MM)
  20. C Frank Ragnow, Lions: Exercised ($12.657MM)
  21. C Billy Price, Bengals: Declined ($10.413MM)
  22. LB Rashaan Evans, Titans: Pending ($9.735MM)
  23. OT Isaiah Wynn, Patriots: Pending ($10.413 MM)
  24. WR D.J. Moore, Panthers: Exercised ($11.116MM)
  25. TE Hayden Hurst, Falcons (via Ravens): Pending ($5.428MM)
  26. WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons: Pending ($11.116MM)
  27. RB Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Pending ($4.523MM)
  28. S Terrell Edmunds, Steelers: Pending ($6.753MM)
  29. DT Taven Bryan, Jaguars: Pending ($7.638MM)
  30. CB Mike Hughes, Vikings: Pending ($12.643MM)
  31. RB Sony Michel, Patriots: Pending ($4.523MM)
  32. QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens: Exercised ($23.106MM)

Bengals Decline Billy Price’s Option

The Bengals will not exercise Billy Price‘s fifth-year option (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). With that, the 2018 first-round draft pick is now on track to reach free agency after the 2021 season.

[RELATED: 2022 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker]

Price, the No. 21 overall pick in the ’18 draft, struggled as a rookie. The Ohio State product played in just ten games due to a lower leg injury and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-worst full-time center. When he healed up in 2019, he lost his spot to veteran Trey Hopkins, a one-time UDFA.

This past season, Price was healthy and able to dress for all 16 games, but he started just once. The Bengals’ decision was no surprise — keeping Price for 2022 would have cost the Bengals $10.41MM. And, thanks to the latest collective bargaining agreement, that sum would have been fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only.

NFL teams have until May 3 to pick up their options on 2018 first-rounders. In addition to full guarantees, fifth-year option salaries are now determined by a new formula which accounts for the player’s position, initial draft placement, accolades, and playing time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL’s Fifth-Year Option Salaries For 2021

The NFL’s 2021 salary cap has been set at $182.5MM, marking the league’s first reduction in a decade. With that, the league has also ironed out the value of this year’s fifth-round option for 2018 first-round picks.

Here’s the full rundown, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter):

1. Baker Mayfield, Browns, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

2. Saquon Barkley, Giants, RB — $7.217MM (1x Pro Bowl)

3. Sam Darnold, Jets, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

4. Denzel Ward, Browns, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

5. Bradley Chubb, Broncos, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

6. Quenton Nelson, Colts, G — $13.754MM (2x Pro Bowl)

7. Josh Allen, Bills, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

8. Roquan Smith, Bears, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

9. Mike McGlinchey, 49ers, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

10. Josh Rosen, Cardinals, QB*

11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers, S (drafted by Dolphins) — $10.612MM (2x Pro Bowl)

12. Vita Vea, Buccaneers, DT — $7.638MM

13. Daron Payne, Washington, DT — $8.529MM (playing time)

14. Marcus Davenport, Saints, DE — $9.553MM

15. Kolton Miller, Raiders, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

16. Tremaine Edmunds, Bills, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

17. Derwin James, Chargers, S — $9.052MM (1x Pro Bowl)

18. Jaire Alexander, Packers, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

19. Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys, LB — $9.145MM

20. Frank Ragnow, Lions, C — $12.657MM (1x Pro Bowl)

21. Billy Price, Bengals, C — $10.413MM

22. Rashaan Evans, Titans, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

23. Isaiah Wynn, Patriots, OT — $10.413MM

24. D.J. Moore, Panthers, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

25. Hayden Hurst, Falcons, TE (Drafted by Ravens) — $5.428MM

26. Calvin Ridley, Falcons, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

27. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks, RB — $4.523MM

28., Steelers, S Terrell Edmunds — $6.753MM (playing time)

29. Taven Bryan, Jaguars, DT — $7.638MM

30. Mike Hughes, Vikings, CB — $12.643MM

31. Sony Michel, Patriots, RB — $4.523MM

32. Lamar Jackson, Ravens, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

* Rosen was released from his original contract and, therefore, is not option-eligible 

As a refresher, the fifth-year option year is now fully guaranteed. In the past, it was guaranteed for injury only. The values are also dependent on certain performance metrics:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

Bengals Notes: Price, Green, Dennard, QBs

After losing starters Clint Boling and Jonah Williams this offseason, the Bengals will have another new first-stringer up front. They are set to bench center Billy Price, a 2018 first-round pick, for veteran Trey Hopkins, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic tweets. This marks a setback in Price’s development. The Ohio State alum struggled as a rookie, playing in only 10 games and grading as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-worst full-time center. A sixth-year UDFA who has made 21 Bengals starts over the past two seasons, Hopkins fared better in 589 snaps in 2018. He graded as PFF’s No. 21 snapper and will parlay that into a Week 1 job.

Additionally, Price’s former Ohio State teammate, fourth-round rookie guard Michael Jordan, will be Cincinnati’s left guard starter. Should an injury befall Hopkins, Jordan or starting left guard John Miller, Dehner adds (via Twitter) Price will return to center.

Here is the latest out of southwest Ohio:

  • Darqueze Dennard is expected to begin the season on the Bengals’ reserve/PUP list, according to Geoff Hobson of the team’s website. The recently re-signed cornerback underwent knee surgery before re-upping with the Bengals. While the team knew Dennard would need surgery after re-signing him, it is certainly a bad sign when a player on a one-year deal will be out at least six regular-season games. Dennard signed for $4.5MM in March.
  • A.J. Green will join Dennard in being out for the start of the season, and it’s uncertain when the perennial Pro Bowl wideout will return. But Hobson adds the Bengals will still attempt to extend Green, who is entering his age-31 season. The Bengals already extended Tyler Boyd. Earlier this offseason, Green expressed a desire to stay in Cincinnati after his 2019 contract year. But that was before he suffered an ankle injury that is expected to keep him out of multiple September games.
  • While Green recovers, a rookie UDFA will take his place. Damion Willis will start alongside Boyd, Zac Taylor said (via Dehner, on Twitter). Willis was part of Cincinnati’s initial post-draft free agent class, signing with the team out of Troy. He has certainly enjoyed a standout preseason.
  • Ryan Finley has commandeered the Bengals’ backup job, and the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Tyler Dragon expects this to push Jeff Driskel off the roster. Driskel has run into hamstring trouble and was making an attempt to show versatility by lining up at wide receiver recently. The former sixth-round pick started five games last season.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Fins, Bengals, Chargers

If Jon Gruden had his way, safety Derwin James would be patrolling the Raiders‘ defensive backfield instead of the Chargers’. Gruden today told reporters that he preferred to select James in the first round of this year’s draft, but Oakland had already used high picks on safeties — Karl Joseph and Obi Melifonwu — in recent years, per Eric Williams of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Raiders ultimately used the 15th overall selection on UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller, who is now manning Derek Carr‘s blindside. James has emerged as an early Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate with his play in Los Angeles, but Gruden’s remarks can be interpreted as a subtle dig at Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, who reportedly hasn’t meshed with Gruden.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Dolphins safety Reshad Jones will be available for Week 5 after missing the previous two weeks with a shoulder injury, writes Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com. Jones was sidelined for Miami’s games against Oakland (win) and New England (loss), forcing rookie defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to take over at safety opposite T.J. McDonald. With Jones’ return, Fitzpatrick will move back into his natural slot corner role. Jones, who entered the league as a Dolphins fifth-round pick in 2010, has been a full-time starter since his second season in the NFL. Last spring, he inked a long-term extension that should keep him in South Beach through 2021
  • Rookie Bengals center Billy Price hasn’t suffered any setbacks since suffering a foot injury in Week 2, but he’s still expected to be in a walking boot for at least two more weeks, tweets Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. That means Price will miss games against the Dolphins and Steelers, and possibly more if his recovery timeline is extended. Cincinnati’s bye comes in Week 9, so the Bengals could potentially hold Price out through then if they want to be cautious. With Price out, the Bengals have turned to former starting guard Trey Hopkins to fill in at the pivot.
  • Chargers linebacker Kyzir White underwent a minor knee operation on Monday and will miss Week 5, head coach Anthony Lynn told reporters, including Williams (Twitter link). White isn’t expected to miss much time, however, and should be back “sooner rather than later,” per Lynn. A fourth-round rookie out of West Virginia, White has started three games for Los Angeles this season, racking up 12 tackles in the process. Jatavis Brown should see more snaps in White’s absence.

Bengals’ Billy Price To Miss Time

The Bengals will be without center Billy Price for a while thanks to a lower left leg injury, as Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Price says he’ll be in a walking boot “24/7” before team doctors re-evaluate him in two weeks. 

Finally figured out what it was this morning,” Price said. “Last couple days was just trying to figure out what it is and what’s the plan going forward. They thought it was an ankle now turned to a foot, there wasn’t any swelling and it wasn’t Lisfranc, so just thankful for that. That’s great news.”

The Price injury hurts (no pun intended), particularly with running back Joe Mixon also on the shelf for 2-4 weeks with a minor meniscus tear. The 2-0 Bengals will go up against the Panthers and Falcons in the next two weeks without two offensive starters, and their absence could stretch into October contests against the Dolphins and Steelers.

For however long they’re out, the Bengals will be relying on running back Giovani Bernard and fill-in center Trey Hopkins to hold down the fort.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Ravens, Bengals, Bills

The Raiders surprisingly re-signed wide receiver Martavis Bryant earlier this week after initially waiving him at final cutdowns, and head coach Jon Gruden is optimistic on Bryant’s chances to contribute, as Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. “He’s in a good place right now,” Gruden said. “I think he’s healthy. I think he’s ready to go. We’re sold on that. We’ve been in contact with him since he has been away. I’ve said it before: when he’s right, he can be a difference maker and we’re hoping he can be one sooner rather than later.”

Bryant is reportedly facing a yearlong suspension after another alleged violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but he’s eligible to play until the league formally announces a ban. Indeed, Bryant is expected to suit up for the Raiders when they face the Broncos on Sunday. Bryant didn’t take any sort of pay cut to return to Oakland, as he’ll collect the same $1.907MM (prorated) salary he was originally due, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Linebacker C.J. Mosley did not suffer any ligament damage in the Ravens‘ Thursday night loss to the Bengals, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters, including Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). While Mosley may miss Baltimore’s Week 3 contest against Denver, Harbaugh doesn’t think Mosley is facing a long-term absence. For what it’s worth, the Ravens announced Mosley had a bone bruise when he left last night’s game. As Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com writes, Mosley has arguably become Baltimore’s most indispensable defender, so the Ravens will be hard-pressed to replace him for any period of time. Mosley, 26, is currently playing out the final year of his contract, but he hadn’t progressed on an extension with the Ravens as of July.
  • Elsewhere from Thursday night’s game, Bengals center Billy Price suffered a foot sprain, according to head coach Marvin Lewis (Twitter link via Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer). The injury doesn’t sound all that serious, as Lewis indicated he was “surprised” Price wasn’t cleared to return to Cincinnati’s eventual victory. Price, the 21st overall selection in this year’s draft, was part of a Bengals offensive line overhaul that also included the acquisition of left tackle Cordy Glenn. If Price is forced to miss action, he’ll be replaced by reserve Trey Hopkins, who started 12 games for Cincinnati in 2017.
  • The Bills will start first-round rookie Josh Allen at quarterback on Sunday after Nathan Peterman and the rest of Buffalo’s offense was thrashed by Baltimore in Week 1, leading Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com to examine whether deploying Allen this early in the season is the correct decision. Allen won’t be forced to face Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, but the Los Angeles defense will certainly present a challenge for the Wyoming product.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Price, Browns

Two key Steelers will be changing positions. Pittsburgh’s outside linebacker starters, Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt, will swap spots, with Dupree shifting to the right outside linebacker role and Watt moving to the left side, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes. Dupree’s issues with being too far behind quarterbacks on outside rushes, in a league that features mostly right-handed passers, prompted Keith Butler to relocate him.

What Bud did too much of last year, in my opinion, was he got past the quarterback,” Butler said. “To me, you’re useless when you’re past the quarterback. Now, he won’t be as useless behind the quarterback because he can work back a little bit or he can go up and under where the quarterback won’t see him.”

Although the Steelers exercised Dupree’s fifth-year option, the 2015 first-round pick has not lived up to expectations just yet. The Kentucky product rated as a bottom-10 edge defender, per Pro Football Focus, last season, but the Steelers will try to give him another opportunity to make good on their investment. Butler said the relative inexperience of the players involved in this switch prompted him to wait until the offseason to make this move.

I think I’m more natural on the left side just because I’m more right-hand dominant,” Watt said, via Benz. “I can have a better dip and a better stab. I have more pitches I can throw on the left side.”

Here’s the latest out of the AFC North, shifting to the division’s most pressing issue — Le’Veon Bell‘s status in Pittsburgh.

  • As less than a month remains until the pivotal extension deadline for franchise-tagged players, Bell has not shown up at Steelers workouts. This was expected. But as of last week, the Steelers had yet to resume contract talks with their All-Pro running back. And Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette puts the odds at an extension occurring as longer than the sides continuing their present arrangement. Fittipaldo writes Bell not reaching a long-term agreement would again induce him to skip training camp and the preseason. Of course, Bell and the Steelers failing to come to terms this year could well mean the 26-year-old dynamo will be playing elsewhere in 2019, considering the prohibitive cost for tagging a player three times.
  • Tyrod Taylor will be a free agent at season’s end, but one AFC executive views him as a player who could make Baker Mayfield wait a long time before taking the Browns‘ reins. “Tyrod Taylor could keep Baker Mayfield on the bench for years,” the anonymous staffer said, via Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report. This seems unlikely given the investment the Browns made in Mayfield, and the fact full redshirts for first-round QBs rarely occur anymore. But Taylor does have three years’ experience as a starter and has maybe the best cast of wide receivers he’s enjoyed since ascending to a starting role. That said, the risk-averse passer will need to be re-signed for this to occur. It would likely take Mayfield’s development stalling considerably for Cleveland to bring back Taylor.
  • Prior to the Lions taking Arkansas interior lineman Frank Ragnow with their first-round pick, the Bengals had he and Billy Price ranked “pretty much evenly,” Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com notes. After watching the Ohio State product operate this offseason, one that didn’t feature him becoming fully cleared until Monday, the Bengals believe Price might be a better fit for their offense rather than the player who was selected one spot ahead of him. He’s expected to be Cincinnati’s starting center from Day 1.