Billy Turner

North Notes: Bears, Packers, Tomlin, Browns

The Bears became the latest team to work out Jamon Brown, with SI.com’s Albert Breer tweeting the guard was in Chicago for an audition. The free agent guard, a Falcons cut last month, has already worked out for the 49ers. Brown was a full-time Rams starter in 2017, but a 2018 suspension derailed his momentum. The Rams waived him shortly after he returned from that ban, but he ended the ’18 season as a Giants first-stringer. The Bears are returning four starters from last season and have been trying ex-Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi at guard.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • The Steelers will let Mike Tomlin enter a contract year. Signed through 2021, Tomlin will not be extended this year, Art Rooney II said (via The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette, subscription required). The Steelers gave Tomlin his most recent extension last July, and he managed an eight-win season despite the largely Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers ranking 32nd in offensive DVOA. Rooney said he plans to address the contracts of Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert, who just signed a one-year extension, in 2021.
  • One of the league’s healthiest teams last season, the Packers may be down a starter in Week 1. Billy Turner suffered a knee injury during a scrimmage and is uncertain for Green Bay’s opener, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Turner played guard for the Packers last season but is competing with free agency addition Ricky Wagner at right tackle this year. Lane Taylor, who missed all of last season, is expected to play right guard opposite emerging talent Elgton Jenkins on the left side.
  • For the second time in three weeks, the Browns brought in Cody Parkey for a visit. The veteran was part of a kicker group to work out for the Browns in August, though it was reported at the time the team was organizing a COVID-related emergency kicker list. Parkey briefly kicked for the Titans last season.
  • Bears training camp coaching intern Henry Burris will stay on the team’s staff all season, Matt Nagy announced. Known mostly for his 17-season CFL run, Burris also was a Bears quarterback for a short time in the early 2000s. This will be his first NFL coaching gig.
  • Vikings linebacker Cameron Smith underwent successful open-heart surgery recently, according to the Associated Press. Mike Zimmer said the second-year defender, who landed on Minnesota’s IR list, will remain in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future to recover.

Packers Eyeing David Bakhtiari Extension

Aaron Rodgers‘ longtime blindside protector, David Bakhtiari, is entering the final year of the four-year extension he signed with the Packers just before the 2016 campaign. He has more than lived up to that contract, earning two Pro Bowl nods and one First Team All-Pro bid over the past four seasons.

He is unquestionably one of the best left tackles in the league, and as Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network observes, Green Bay would love to get an extension finalized before Week 1 (Twitter link). After all, the LT market is rapidly heating up, and Bakhtiari’s deal now places him outside of the top-10 in terms of average annual value.

When asked back in June if there were any ongoing negotiations with the Packers, the soon-to-be 29-year-old was tight-lipped. Though he did commit 12 penalties in 2019, including a career-high five false starts, he chalked that up to learning a new offensive system. Indeed, he did not commit any penalties in the final four games of the campaign, and if he turns in a typical performance in 2020, he will have every right to demand a contract similar to the monstrous three-year, $66MM pact ($50MM guaranteed) that Laremy Tunsil recently signed with the Texans.

The Packers certainly would like to get Bakhtiari tethered to something a little more team-friendly, so it stands to reason that they would try to lock him up sooner rather than later. That is especially true in light of the expected salary cap decrease in 2021.

In other OL news for Green Bay, offseason acquisition Ricky Wagner left practice with a left arm injury yesterday, as Tom Silverstein and Jim Owczarski of PackersNews.com write. If Wagner misses an extended period of time, look for the club to line up 2019 right guard Billy Turner at right tackle and Lane Taylor at right guard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Paradis, Saffold, Jackson, Packers

Following another busy day around the NFL, let’s check out some contract details:

Packers To Sign OL Billy Turner

The Packers’ shopping spree isn’t over yet. On Tuesday morning, the Packers agreed to sign offensive lineman Billy Turner, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (on Twitter). Turner’s deal with Green Bay is for four years and $28MM, with a max value of $29.5MM, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. The contract calls for him to receive $11MM in the first year.

Turner, 27, has spent the last two years and change with the Broncos. He was discussing a new deal with Denver this week, but the addition of Ja’Wuan James probably squeezed him out of Denver. Turner now turns his attention to the Packers, where he can offer help at both tackle and guard.

The former Dolphins third-round pick has 25 career starts to his credit, including 11 last year. After suffering a rash of injuries up front, the Packers can use all the help they can get in protecting Aaron Rodgers.

Of course, Turner’s signing isn’t the real attention grabber in Green Bay. On Tuesday, the Packers also agreed to sign safety Adrian Amos, linebacker Preston Smith, and pass rusher Za’Darius Smith. Given all of the expenditures, it seems unlikely that the Packers will be serious suitors for Le’Veon Bell.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Looking To Re-Sign Matt Paradis

Free agent Matt Paradis is generating some interest on the open market, but a return to Denver still sounds like it’s in the cards.

Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that the Broncos have restarted talks with the veteran center. However, Troy Renck of Denver7 adds that the 29-year-old snapper and the Broncos were not close in their talks earlier Monday evening.

We heard in late February that Denver was going to let Paradis hit the open market, and the Jets have been mentioned as one potential suitor for the 29-year-old. The five-year veteran is generally regarded as the top center on the market. Jason Kelce and Maurkice Pouncey recently increased the top of the center market to $11MM per year, meaning Paradis is in line for a lucrative payday.

As our own Sam Robinson wrote earlier today, given how teams have spent on offensive linemen in recent years, it is not out of the question that Paradis could exceed the deals received by Kelce and Pouncey. Ryan Jensen became the highest-paid center via 2018 free agency accord, and Paradis has a longer track record of success than Jensen. The Bills also made Mitch Morse the new highest-paid center earlier Monday, perhaps further raising Paradis’ asking price.

Having started every game with the Broncos since the start of the 2015 season, Paradis broke his fibula to end his 2018 season. But he is still likely to command a top-market contract, having been one of the NFL’s top centers since the 2016 season.

Klis tweets that the Broncos also restarted talks with offensive lineman Billy Turner today. However, it’s uncertain if the team still has interest in Turner following the signing of offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Brown, Bills, Steelers, Redskins, 49ers, Broncos

The Antonio Brown era with the Bills didn’t last long. Shortly after it was reported that Brown was headed to Buffalo, the report turned out not to be true. It was acknowledged by all parties that there were talks between the Steelers and Bills but we didn’t know many details of what exactly happened, until now. Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News came out with a story that delved into what happened, and talks apparently broke down because of Brown’s contract. Bills brass was going back and forth with Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus, and “discussed a potential renegotiation of the receiver’s contract,” according to Carucci.

Carucci noted that the more new money the Bills gave Brown, the less compensation they were willing to give the Steelers in a trade and vice versa. Carucci shot down reports that Brown was mortally opposed to playing in Buffalo, writing that the Bills were confident that “if they met his financial demand and were able to make the trade, Brown would have happily joined them.” In the end, renegotiating Brown’s contract proved too difficult and is what ultimately led to the breakdown in talks.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of Brown, the Bills weren’t the only team to withdraw over Brown’s contract. Another team pursuing Brown walked away because “it was communicated to them” that Brown wanted a new contract that would make him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL with any new team, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. It was previously thought that the Steelers’ demands for a first round pick might’ve been delaying this process, but it sounds like Brown’s contract is the biggest hurdle at the moment.
  • While Brown still hasn’t been traded, Case Keenum has. Keenum was dealt to the Redskins yesterday in a surprising trade, and fans weren’t the only ones caught off guard by the move. Keenum apparently didn’t know it was coming either, and neither he nor his camp were involved in finding Washington as a landing spot, according to Ryan O’Halloran of The Denver Post (Twitter link). Alex Smith is very likely to miss at least the entire 2019 season, and as of right now Keenum is likely to be the team’s starting quarterback next season.
  • 49ers punter Bradley Pinion “has been telling those around him that he does not expect to be back” next year, Matt Barrows of The Athletic hears. Barrows points out that Pinion ranked 24th in net average and had 22 punts inside of the 20-yard line, putting him somewhere in the middle of the pack. He also handled kickoffs, so the Niners will have to find someone new to cover both roles assuming they move on. Pinion was a fifth round pick of San Francisco back in 2015, and is about to enter unrestricted free agency.
  • Broncos offensive tackle Billy Turner had been discussing an extension with the team, but those talks have “broken off”, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapoport writes that Turner will now hit the open market, and that the Broncos will now be a “prime” candidate to sign a right tackle in free agency. Turner started 11 games for the Broncos last season, earning average marks from Pro Football Focus.

Broncos Rumors: Murray, Paradis, Keenum

Although the Broncos agreed to acquire Joe Flacco, they will still be linked to this year’s top rookie quarterbacks — as they were last year. If Kyler Murray is available at No. 10, they may serve as a spot for teams looking to trade up. John Elway does not appear to believe the shorter passer would be a fit for an offense that will use plenty of under-center looks under new OC Rich Scangarello, per Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). The Broncos passed on Josh Allen and Josh Rosen last year and have been connected to Drew Lock. If Denver sticks at No. 10 and chooses a non-quarterback, the team will have had back-to-back top-10 picks without addressing its long-term QB need with one of them. The 2020 draft is expected to have high-profile passers, but it’s obviously no lock the Broncos will be in position to draft or trade up for one.

Here is the latest from Denver (via Indianapolis):

  • Despite the Flacco deal, Elway’s preference is to keep Case Keenum. It would take a restructured deal, though, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. Keenum is attached an untenable $21MM cap number. With Flacco set to bring an $18.5MM figure to Denver, it is hard to see Keenum staying due to the pay cut it would require. The 30-year-old incumbent has not requested a trade, Elway said (per the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran, on Twitter), adding the Broncos would allow him to seek one.
  • Matt Paradis probably looms as the Broncos’ top free agent priority. Elway has spoken with the Broncos’ center of the past four years and informed him they would like him back, Jhabvala tweets. But Paradis’ injury and price point will be a factor. The 29-year-old snapper has been expected to reach free agency, where a new market-setting deal may well await him — considering teams’ need for higher-end linemen. However, multiple executives predicted (via O’Halloran, Twitter link) Paradis will end up back in Denver on a one-year deal because of the broken fibula that ended his season last November.
  • The Broncos’ need for a cornerback is as great as it has been in five years, and Elway acknowledged (via Klis, on Twitter) the team needs to find a No. 2 corner to team with All-Pro Chris Harris. This would seem to point to Bradley Roby departing, which has been the expectation. Vic Fangio said (via Jhabvala) the Broncos will let Roby test free agency, a good sign he will not be back in 2019.
  • As for Harris, Elway said the team has not considered an extension yet and whether or not the Broncos do go in this direction will depend on their free agency period, per Troy Renck of Denver7 (on Twitter). However, Renck added earlier (Twitter link) the expectation is the Broncos will meet with Harris’ agent at the Combine. The 29-year-old corner has been one of Denver’s cornerstone players this decade, and with Roby likely to leave and Aqib Talib having been traded, Harris represents the Broncos’ only surefire option at corner. Denver is also set to let Tramaine Brock walk.
  • On its offensive line, Denver will bring back Ronald Leary, Elway confirmed (via Jhabvala, on Twitter). Leary has more than $5MM in injury guarantees due if he cannot pass a physical by March 17. It’s been previously reported the veteran guard will be unable to pass said physical by then. Leary has seen both of his Denver seasons end early because of injury. Also on the Broncos’ O-line: Elway said (per Renck, on Twitter) the team would like to re-sign right tackle starter Jared Veldheer and utility blocker Billy Turner. If Veldheer departs, the Broncos would have a sixth Week 1 right tackle starter in six years.

AFC Notes: Jets, Steelers, Ravens, Broncos

The Jets have “massive buyer’s remorse” after signing cornerback Trumaine Johnson a five-year, $72.5MM deal last offseason, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Johnson, who had been franchise-tagged by the Rams in both 2016 and 2017, is now the NFL’s second-highest paid corner behind only Josh Norman. While he may not have played like a No. 1 CB last season, Johnson’s numbers were much improved from 2017. After ranking as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 60 corner in 2017, Johnson finished 24th in PFF’s grades last year. Football Outsiders, meanwhile, ranked Johnson as a bottom-10 corner in success rate in 2017, but 30th in 2018. Gang Green can’t realistically exit the Johnson contract until after the 2019 campaign.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Steelers appear set to explore the trade market for wide receiver Antonio Brown, but the return for the superstar may not be as lucrative as Pittsburgh hopes. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (video link) surveyed multiple NFL executives and reached the conclusion that the Steelers are likely to receive something in the neighborhood of a third-round pick in exchange for Brown. While he’s still among the NFL’s best pass-catchers, Brown is heading into his age-31 season and will be due north of $15MM in 2019. Additionally, it’s fair to wonder if some rival clubs are skeptical of Brown given his recent off-field antics. Earlier today, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert made it clear that he won’t simply give Brown away.
  • Speaking of embattled Steelers, kicker Chris Boswell is likely to face competition in training camp following a down 2018 campaign, as Colbert indicated to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Boswell only converted 65% of his field goal attempts last season, a percentage that ranked him 30th among kickers. He’s due a $2MM roster bonus on March 15, and the Steelers are presumably willing to pay that total given that Colbert says Boswell will be at training camp.
  • Cornerback Jimmy Smith could be a potential cap casualty as the Ravens move forward this offseason, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Smith is scheduled to count for nearly $16MM on Baltimore’s salary cap in 2019 (the highest figure on the club and second-highest among NFL corners), is now 30 years old, and has missed 13 games over the past three season due to injuries and a suspension. The Ravens have plenty of cornerback depth to withstand the loss of Smith (Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young), but he’s still playing at a high level.
  • The Broncos have begun negotiations with offensive lineman Billy Turner, and he may be the sole member of Denver’s unrestricted free agent class that will reach an agreement before the start of the new league year, writes Mike Klis of 9News. A former third-round pick of the Dolphins, Turner signed for $2MM last offseason and should receive a salary bump this year. He played 76% of the Broncos’ offensive snaps a year ago, and could return either as a starter or a valuable reserve in 2019.

Contract Details: Jordy, Glennon, Incognito

Let’s take a look at the most recent new contracts and restructures around the NFL:

New Contracts

  • Jordy Nelson, WR (Raiders): Two years, $14.2MM. $13MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com).
  • Mike Glennon, QB (Cardinals): Two-year, $8MM deal contains void years in 2020 and 2021. $4MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com).
  • Spencer Long, C (Jets): Four years, $27.5MM. $6MM guaranteed (link via Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap).
  • Jaron Brown, WR (Seahawks): Two years, $5.5MM. $2.75MM guaranteed. $1.95MM signing bonus. $750K available annually via receptions, yards, and touchdowns incentives (Twitter link via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com).
  • Christian Jones, LB (Lions): Two years, $6.35MM. $2.8MM guaranteed. $1.75MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com).
  • Kyle Wilber, LB (Raiders): Two years, $2.75MM. $1.4MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of SiriusXM).
  • Billy Turner, OL (Broncos): One year, $2MM. $750K guaranteed. $500K signing bonus (Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9News).

Restructures

  • Richie Incognito, G (Bills): 2018 base salary reduced from $6.325MM to $3.65MM. Earned $1MM bonus. Bills created $1.675MM in cap space (Twitter link via Yates).
  • John Jerry, G (Giants): 2019 contract season eliminated. 2018 base salary reduced from $3.05MM to $1.075MM, $525K of which is guaranteed. $400K roster bonus added and paid on 3/21. Per-game roster bonuses increased from $250K to $500K (all Twitter links via Dan Duggan of NJ.com). Giants created $525K in cap space.

North Notes: Bengals, Vikings, Ansah

We learned earlier today that the Steelers signed Jon Bostic to a two-year deal as a potential fill-in for Ryan Shazier, and now we’ll take a swing around a few other north division clubs:

  • Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer think the Bengals did very well for themselves during the first week of the new league year, and they believe the club is done with its major free agent additions/trades in 2018. One of the reasons the team was so successful is that it did not force itself into an expensive Russell Bodine contract. The market has not developed for Bodine, a four-year starter in Cincinnati, in the way that he thought it would, and he may have to settle for a modest deal. We heard earlier today that he will be making a visit to the Bills, and while the Bengals will have center options in the draft, they could bring back Bodine if his price falls far enough.
  • Yesterday, we heard that the Vikings were open to bringing back the recently-released Jarius Wright at a lesser rate, and Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press says that Wright himself would be open to rejoining Minnesota at a reduced salary. Wright said, “It’s not out of the question. But it’s the NFL. We’ll have to see what happens. But I love Minnesota. I would love to come back, so you just never know what will happen.”
  • The Broncos signed OL Billy Turner yesterday, but Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets that the Vikings also had interest in Turner as a depth option. Tomasson tweets that the team might not have the funds to make a major O-line addition, though it will continue to monitor the market for potential bargains (like Turner). Any potential starter, though, would likely come through the draft.
  • The Lions recently retained Zach Zenner on a one-year deal and signed LeGarrette Blount to a one-year pact, which leads Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com to believe that the club will target an RB early in the draft.
  • In the same piece, Rothstein says he believes Ziggy Ansah will play out the 2018 season on the franchise tender and that he and Lions are not likely to reach a long-term agreement before the July deadline. Rothstein also said the team cut Eric Ebron and saved his significant salary cap charge for a reason, though it’s not clear what that is just yet. Rothstein says Ebron would not have been cut unless the team knew it had a better option coming in (although the Lions could have simply felt that Ebron’s role as a potential mismatch receiving tight end might not be as important to the offense in 2018).