Brandon Copeland

East Rumors: Cowboys, Patriots, Copeland

The Jaylon Smith extension tethers the emerging linebacker to the Cowboys through the 2025 season, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes the deal will give 24-year-old standout $19MM fully guaranteed at signing. Both this figure and Smith’s AAV ($12.5MM) place him sixth among off-ball linebackers, giving this pact a win-win feel for the Cowboys and a player who recovered from a serious injury to move into lucrative extension position.

Smith will be 30 by the time this contract expires but will only be 27 by the time the guarantees stop in 2022. The deal contains a $5.17MM base salary for 2020, which is fully guaranteed, and a $7.2MM base for 2021. This contract includes injury guarantees for both Smith’s 2021 and 2022 base salaries — $7.2MM and $9.2MM, respectively — and those become full guarantees on the fifth day of each year. Additionally, the deal contains a $500K de-escalator, Florio adds. This will take effect if Smith fails to show for 90% of Dallas’ offseason workouts.

The Cowboys still have the same four key UFAs-to-be as they did to start the week — Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones and La’el Collins — and Ezekiel Elliott remains a holdout. But the team checked off a key piece of its complicated contract checklist in locking down Smith, who would have been a 2020 RFA.

Here is the latest from the East divisions:

  • More good news for the Patriots‘ wide receiver situation. Demaryius Thomas came off the active/PUP list, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. This marks a key step for the former Pro Bowler. Thomas is not a lock to make New England’s 53-man roster and can no longer be stashed on the team’s reserve/PUP list to start the season. With Thomas unlikely to play in New England’s fourth preseason game, he has a short time to prove he belongs on the final roster. But the Pats taking him off their PUP list leads NESN.com’s Doug Kyed to project the 31-year-old target will be one of the 53-man unit’s receivers.
  • Josh Gordon‘s return obviously strengthens the Pats’ receiving corps, but it will make their roster crunch more difficult. Gordon, Thomas, Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, rookie Jakobi Meyers, Phillip Dorsett and Maurice Harris will not all be on the Pats’ 53-man roster, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe looks to have Harris on the wrong side of the bubble (Twitter link). The former Redskins auxiliary cog signed with the Pats in free agency and impressed early in camp, but he’s dealing with a leg injury presently. The recent developments involving higher-profile players may push him back to free agency.
  • Brandon Copeland issued a denial in knowingly taking a banned substance, via Instagram. While this could be expected, given how post-PED fallouts usually unfold, the Jets linebacker is out four games. This further thins out the Jets’ edge defender crew, which was already a weak spot for the AFC’s Big Apple franchise. Copeland registered five sacks last season.

NFL Suspends Jets LB Brandon Copeland

Another linebacker down for the Jets. On Wednesday, Brandon Copeland was suspended four games by the NFL for performance-enchanting substances. 

Copeland’s suspension comes on the heels of Avery Williamson‘s season-ending ACL tear, leaving the Jets even thinner in the LB group. The club already signed former Saints and Dolphins ‘backer Stephone Anthony to help fill the gap, but they could go shopping once again for depth.

Copeland is eligible to participate in the Jets’ two remaining preseason contests as well as their remaining preseason practices, but he’ll be barred from playing until Oct. 7, thanks to the Jets’ Week 4 bye.

In 2018, his first year with the Jets, Copeland managed 35 tackles and five sacks. He played the full 16-game slate, including ten starts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Bucs, Falcons, Saints

While previous reports have indicated the Buccaneers plan to retain Gerald McCoy, the veteran defensive tackle may actually not be safe, especially given head coach Bruce Arians‘ most recent comments to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s not as disruptive as he was four years ago,” Arians said. “But he’s still pretty disruptive. He’s still a good player….I got to evaluate him. I mean, guys at a certain age, it’s different. Usually, the age they get paid the most and production (doesn’t) match. We’ve got to find that out.” McCoy, 31, ranked fourth among defensive tackles with 21 quarterback hits in 2018 and finished as the NFL’s No. 28 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus. He’s signed through 2021, but Tampa Bay won’t incur any dead money by releasing McCoy (and would save $13MM against the cap).

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • The Buccaneers had interest in edge rusher Brandon Copeland before he re-signed with the Jets, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets. Tampa Bay ranked 28th in the NFL with 31 sacks a season ago, so the club can certainly use some extra help in getting pressure. However, the Bucs have already signed Shaquil Barrett to a one-year deal, so Copeland could have been viewed as redundant. Copeland. who also drew interest from New England, Washington, and Detroit, only landed one year and $1.25MM from New York, so Tampa Bay could have probably outbid Gang Green if it had serious interest.
  • Franchise-tagged defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will be a “Falcon for life,” team owner Arthur Blank told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Atlanta will control Jarrett through at least the 2019 campaign after franchising him, but that will come at a heavy cost: $15.209MM, a figure that makes Jarrett the NFL’s sixth-highest-paid interior defender. Jarrett, who has started 44 games over the past three years, will likely target an average annual value closer to Fletcher Cox‘s $17.1MM and a full guarantee package in excess of $50MM. Atlanta currently has less than $5MM in available cap space; an extension for Jarrett would lower his 2019 cap charge and increase the Falcons’ available funds.
  • Saints general manager Mickey Loomis will no longer be involved in running the NBA’s Pelicans, reports Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com (Twitter link). Loomis, who’s been the Saints’ GM since 2002, took over as the Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations in 2012. However, there was reportedly some concern within the Saints’ franchise that Loomis was being “spread too thin,” according to Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk. The Pelicans are in the process of hiring a new GM, one who will report directly to Saints/Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.
  • Nick Easton‘s four-year deal with the Saints is worth $22.5MM but contains only $4MM in guaranteed money, tweets Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune, who adds Easton received a $2MM signing bonus. As Mike Triplett of ESPN.com suggests (via Twitter), Easton’s deal is essentially a one-year deal with a series of options in 2020 ($5MM), 2021 ($6MM), and 2022 ($7.5MM).

Contract Details: Dennard, 49ers, Fins, Jets

Here are the latest contract details from around the league:

Jets Re-Sign Brandon Copeland

The Jets have re-signed outside linebacker Brandon Copeland, according to a team announcement. The club also retained tight end Neal Sterling, per the press release. 

Copeland, who had a career-high five sacks in 2018, also drew interest from the PatriotsRedskins, and Lions during the free agent period. Ultimately, he decided to return to the Jets, where he enjoyed the most productive season of his career.

After going undrafted out of Penn in 2015, Copeland spent three seasons with the Lions as a special-teamer, topping 300 ST snaps in both 2015 and 2016. He suffered a torn pectoral the following year and missed all of the 2017 campaign, and subsequently signed a one-year deal with Gang Green in 2018. Last year was a breakout season for Copeland, as he saw action on a career-high 611 defensive snaps and tied for the third-highest sack total on the Jets’ roster.

The Jets may still be in the market for edge rush help, but Copeland’s return will go a long way towards addressing that void. They’re also still in the hunt for cornerback and center help, so the re-signing of Copeland could allow them to prioritize those needs moving forward.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Host LB Brandon Copeland

The Lions met with free agent edge rusher Brandon Copeland on Wednesday, according to NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link).

Copeland, 27, already has experience with Detroit, as he played for the club from 2015-17 under former head coach Jim Caldwell. While the Lions visit marked the first official meeting of Copeland’s free agent period, he has drawn interest from the Patriots and Redskins, although neither team has scheduled a sit-down.

After going undrafted out of Penn in 2015, Copeland spent three seasons with the Lions as a special-teamer, topping 300 ST snaps in both 2015 and 2016. He suffered a torn pectoral the following year and missed all of the 2017 campaign, and subsequently signed a one-year deal with Gang Green in 2018. Last year was a breakout season for Copeland, as he saw action on a career-high 611 defensive snaps and posted five sacks, tied for third-best on the Jets’ roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Interested In Brandon Copeland

The Redskins have expressed some interest in edge rusher Brandon Copeland, as John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. There’s no visit scheduled just yet, but one could be just around the corner. 

[RELATED: Redskins, DRC Agree To Deal]

Keim notes that the Redskins are looking to add one or two more edge rushers to the mix this offseason, including the draft. Copeland could be one solution, though he also has the attention of the Patriots.

Copeland, who turns 28 in July, spent the 2018 season with the Jets after the first two years of his career in Detroit. He didn’t see many defensive snaps with the Lions, but he made ten starts and appeared in every game for Gang Green in 2018. Copeland’s five sacks put him on the league’s radar and the next deal he signs should be the largest of his pro career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Waddle, Allen, Copeland

Here’s a quick rundown of some AFC East items:

  • The Dolphins lost right tackle Ja’Wuan James and are seeking a cheaper alternative. The club had a discussion about free agent LaAdrian Waddle, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, but nothing had materialized on that front as of this afternoon. Jackson says Miami could also be interested in former Falcons RT Ryan Schraeder, whom Atlanta released today.
  • New Dolphins TE Dwayne Allen is under contract through 2020, but his $3.5MM salary for 2020 is not guaranteed, as Jackson writes in a separate piece. As such, the club could cut him at the end of the 2019 campaign and incur only $625K in dead money.
  • The Patriots lost their top sack artist from last season, Trey Flowers. and are looking for some pass rush help. To that end, the club has inquired on free agent Brandon Copeland, who had five sacks for the division-rival Jets last season.
  • In case you missed it, the Jets are unlikely to re-sign return man Andre Roberts.

AFC East Rumors: Mack, Brady, Hughes

The Raiders and star defender Khalil Mack are embroiled in contract negotiations that could result in Mack being traded. If that happens, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com suggests that the Jets should pounce. Gang Green has little pass rushing talent at the moment, and the club has $82MM of projected cap room in 2019, with only one big contract (Leonard Williams) on the horizon. Oakland would demand at least a first-round pick in return, and in addition to negotiating a high-level trade, the Jets would also need to work out a long-term deal with Mack. Those types of deals are difficult to pull off, and it is still unlikely that the Raiders part with Mack, whom they can keep under club control through three more seasons if they so choose. However, if Oakland does begin entertaining offers, Cimini would not be surprised if the Jets are one of the first teams to jump on the phone.

Let’s take a look at a few more rumors from the AFC East:

  • Jets OLB Lorenzo Mauldin is still around because of New York’s aforementioned dearth of pass rushers, but Mauldin, a 2015 third-round pick, has been dogged by injuries throughout his brief career, and he hasn’t been particularly effective even when he’s gotten on the field. As such, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets that Mauldin could be cut sooner rather than later, and that New York could let him go with an injury settlement (Mauldin is currently dealing with a leg issue that kept him out of the team’s preseason opener).
  • In a full-length piece, Mehta says that Brandon Copeland, a former UDFA out of UPenn who signed a one-year deal with the Jets this offseason after missing all of 2017, has been very impressive in camp and has been taking first-team reps over the past few days. Given the Jets’ pass rushing needs, Copeland has a real chance to get plenty of playing time this season.
  • We have written extensively on Tom Brady‘s new contract with the Patriots in recent days, and the moral of the story is that it looks as if Brady will continue playing through at least the 2019 season, and that the two sides could come to terms on another new deal next year in order to push some of Brady’s increased 2019 cap number into 2020. However, as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, since Brady and the Pats officially put pen to paper on August 9, 2018, they can’t renegotiate his contract again until August 9, 2019.
  • Trent Brown, whom the Patriots acquired via trade with the 49ers earlier this offseason, is the favorite to replace Nate Solder as New England’s starting left tackle, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Brown is eligible for unrestricted free agency next year, so he will have plenty of incentive to perform at a high level.
  • Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News calls 2018 the most critical season of Bills DE Jerry Hughes‘ career. Hughes’ volatile on-field personality could be overlooked when he was posting double-digit sack totals earlier in his career, but his sack numbers have slumped since he signed a five-year, $45MM in 2015, so the unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are a little harder to stomach. His $10.4MM salary in 2018 is the highest on the Bills, and while Buffalo could have cut him this offseason and saved a little cap room, the team could save $7.5MM by releasing him after the 2018 campaign, so he may need to show a return to his early-career form to stay in Buffalo and earn another $10.4MM next year. For what it’s worth, the Bills think Hughes’ sack numbers will be improved with the addition of Trent Murphy and (hopefully) some growth out of Shaq Lawson. Plus, Hughes did grade as a top-10 run defender (among edge players) last season, in Pro Football Focus’ view.
  • The Bills shook up their defensive line rotation earlier today.
  • The Dolphins are visiting with the increasingly-popular Bashaud Breeland today.

Jets Sign LB Brandon Copeland

The Jets have added a pair of players to their defense. The team announced that they have signed linebacker Brandon Copeland. The Jets also announced that they have re-signed defensive lineman Xavier Cooper.

Copeland, a 2013 undrafted free agent out of Penn, had spent the past three seasons with the Lions organization. After appearing in every regular season game between 2015 and 2016, the 26-year-old sat out the entire 2017 campaign with a pectoral tear. In 32 career games, Copeland compiled 30 tackles, 0.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. Earlier tonight, ESPN’s Michael Rothstein tweeted that the linebacker wouldn’t be returning to Detroit.

“Too many different levels of excitement to put into words,” Copeland said about the signing (via Ethan Greenberg of NewYorkJets.com). “Coming off of injured reserve, having to sit every Sunday, Monday and Thursday and watching other people play, I’m first and foremost excited to get back to the game that I love.”

Cooper was non-tendered by the Jets last week, but the defensive lineman will rejoin the organization on a new contract. The 2015 third-rounder split the 2017 season between the Jets and 49ers, compiling 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 13 games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.