Bills Rumors

Antonio Brown’s Contract Demands Nixed Offer Of First-Round Pick?

Antonio Brown‘s offseason has produced numerous headlines, that spree continuing after his arrival in Oakland. But not a ton of clarity emerged on what other offers the Steelers received for their perennial All-Pro wide receiver.

The Raiders swooped in after the Bills’ brief talks regarding Brown ended without a deal, landing a player on course for the Hall of Fame for third- and fifth-round picks. Interested teams had issues with Brown’s demand for a new contract, one of which apparently was ready to submit a much better proposal to the Steelers.

Brown’s financial demands stopped at least one team from offering a first-round pick, Jeremy Fowler and Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com report. Had the 30-year-old wideout been available without seeking another new contract, the ESPN duo notes Pittsburgh may well have acquired an extra first-round pick — presumably in 2019. However, teams knew a month prior to the trade that acquiring the mercurial wideout meant negotiating a new contract.

A slew of suitors emerged for Brown, in addition to the Bills, the Eagles, Saints, Titans and Redskins among them. The Bills were believed to be ready to swap first-rounders with the Steelers and part with two mid-round picks. That is the best known offer for Brown, and Fowler reports the Steelers felt strongly about the Bills’ proposal. The Patriots were indeed interested as well but the Steelers held firm on their stance not to do a deal with them.

After some convincing, the Raiders agreed to amend Brown’s contract. The Steelers dropped their asking price to those third- and fifth-rounders, with Kevin Colbert optimistic about the teams trying again — after some failed early talks on March 8 — to get a deal done. Brown ended up with $30MM in additional guarantees. The Steelers hold the Raiders’ No. 66 and No. 141 overall picks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Eyeing Ed Oliver?

  • Ed Oliver‘s stock has risen a bit in the days leading up to the draft, and the Bills are in play for the interior defender at No. 9, Miller writes, adding Buffalo wants to add a bona fide interior pass-rushing presence to complement the space-eating defensive tackles it currently employs.

Complete 2019 NFL International Pathway Program

Moritz Boehringer is back in the NFL. The German tight end, who became the first European player ever to be drafted without playing American college football back in 2016, has been allocated to the Bengals as part of the league’s international pathway program, per Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com.

Boehringer’s assignment to the Bengals completes this year’s program. Each season, teams in two divisions get a roster exemption to develop a player from another country. The player can be the 91st man on offseason rosters, and can be an 11th player on practice squads during the regular season. Boehringer was drafted by the Vikings, but spent his rookie season on the practice squad without ever appearing in a game. He came into the league as a receiver, but has since transitioned to tight end. He was with the Bengals as part of this program last year, and will be back in Cincy in 2019.

Here’s a list of the rest of the players selected to participate:

Baltimore Ravens

  • FB Christopher Ezeala

Buffalo Bills

  • RB Christian Wade

Cleveland Browns 

  • DB Tigie Sankoh

Miami Dolphins

  • DT Durval Neto

New England Patriots

  • TE/FB Jakob Johnson

New York Jets

  • RB/WR/KR Valentine Holmes

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • TE Christian Scotland-Williamson

The AFC North participated last year, but this year the AFC East is taking the place of the NFC South. Notably, Efe Obada was a participant in the program with the Panthers last year, and he went on to make Carolina’s 53-man roster last season. He was re-signed this offseason.

Each of the players assigned to the AFC North were with those teams last year. Scotland-Williamson is a former rugby player, while Boehringer, Sankoh, and Ezeala all played American football overseas before making the leap.

All of the AFC East players are new to the program. Given the Patriots’ track record of finding hidden gems, Johnson will likely end up leading the league in receiving yards at some point. Johnson was signed from the German football league. Neto was playing football in Brazil before being added to the Dolphins. Wade and Holmes are both former prominent rugby players.

Lake Dawson Turned Down Dolphins GM Job In 2014

  • In an engrossing profile, Bills executive Lake Dawson reveals to Tim Graham of The Athletic that he turned down the Dolphins‘ general manager job in 2014 following conversations with team owner Stephen Ross. “In terms of commitment,” Dawson said, “they weren’t going to give me the time, and they weren’t going to allow me to hire some of the people that I wanted to hire. The owner wanted a fast change.” Things have clearly changed in Miami, as the Dolphins are now embarking on a serious rebuild. Dawson, for his part, interviewed for the Panthers’ GM job earlier this year.

NFL Draft Rumors: Ravens, Bush, Titans

Here’s a look at the latest NFL Draft buzz as players take their final visits:

  • Michigan linebacker Devin Bush will visit the Ravens on Wednesday, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Baltimore holds the No. 22 overall pick, but they may have to trade up if they want to land him. The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year is a surefire first-rounder after putting up 85 tackles, 10 sacks, and 18.5 tackles for loss over the past two years.
  • Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown and Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell will take their last pre-draft visits to the Titans on Wednesday, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). Both players could be on the radar for Tennessee’s No. 19 overall selection.
  • Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver will meet with the Bills, Rapoport hears. They’re far from the only team interested in Oliver, however, and the rival Jets are apparently among the clubs keen on him. The Jets would be reaching if they took Oliver at No. 3 overall, but they’ve been vocal about their desire to trade down. Meanwhile, the Bills could conceivably entertain the Houston product at No. 9 overall.

Bills To Play Eli Harold At DE

  • Eli Harold will line up as a defensive end in Buffalo, Bills GM Brandon Beane said (Twitter link). Harold has worked as an outside linebacker in 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, doing so in San Francisco and Detroit, while also used on the line at times. The Bills have Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy aligned as their starting ends, with perpetual trade candidate Shaq Lawson residing there as well.

Bills Host T.J. Yeldon On Visit

T.J. Yeldon spent Tuesday touring another AFC East team’s facility. After meeting with the Patriots last week, the former Jaguars running back is visiting with the Bills, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The Bills have two All-Decade team-caliber backs in LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore, but both are north of 30. Entering what would be his fifth season, Yeldon would obviously represent fresher legs.

Jacksonville, however, diminished Yeldon’s role as his time in north Florida progressed. After a 182-carry rookie season, the one-time second-round pick ended his Jaguars stay as the team’s third-string running back — behind Leonard Fournette and Carlos Hyde. Yeldon has averaged north of 5.0 yards per carry, however, doing so as recently as 2017. He averaged 4.0 yards per handoff last season.

The 25-year-old runner was the Jags’ top pass-catching back for a while, however, and he hauled in a career-high 55 passes for 487 yards and four touchdowns last year. McCoy is obviously one of the best receiving backs of this era, but he is going into his 11th season. Only two Bills — wideouts Robert Foster and Zay Jones — surpassed Yeldon’s receiving-yardage total last season.

In Year 3 of the Brandon Beane/Sean McDermott partnership, the Bills have used free agency revamped their offense considerably. John Brown and Cole Beasley are in place at wide receiver, with Tyler Kroft now at tight end. Several new linemen are now on the roster as well. Yeldon would be a similar step for a Bills team that has changed up most of its McCoy supporting cast.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Packers, Dillard, White, Fins

Midway through a rather notable offseason, given the recent behind-the-curtain look at their previous power structure, the Packers are investigating some high-end quarterback prospects. They are obviously set at sports’ marquee position, but with Aaron Rodgers set to turn 36 by season’s end, Green Bay is at a similar point compared to when it last made a major quarterback investment. The Packers will host Drew Lock on a visit Tuesday, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com reports (on Twitter). They also tried to set up a summit with Daniel Jones, but the parties’ schedules did not line up, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (via Twitter). The Packers took Rodgers when Brett Favre was 36 and sat him for three years. While Green Bay pulling the trigger on a passer would be rather surprising, especially given Rodgers’ contract status, the team does have two first-round picks this year.

Here is the latest from the draft world, staying on the subject of quarterbacks:

  • Lock will also meet with the Chargers, per Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com (on Twitter). Teams have ramped up their signal-caller-related preparation, in the event Kyler Murray does not go No. 1, according to Robinson, who notes some teams believe this year’s passers could slide a bit should Murray not be the Cardinals’ choice atop the draft. Some modest steam picked up on this notion earlier Monday.
  • The Dolphins, who already met with Jones, will head to the Duke campus to work out the former Blue Devil starter, Rapoport reports (on Twitter). Teams only have a few more days to host prospects on “30” visits but can still work them out after that deadline passes. Miami will also host Michigan linebacker Devin Bush and Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Devin White‘s stock has risen during the pre-draft process, to the point he may be the rare off-ball linebacker to be picked in the top five. One of the teams holding such a selection, the Raiders, brought in White for a visit, Rapoport tweets. The Buccaneers, who hold pick No. 5, have been closely connected to the LSU ‘backer. The Raiders have the No. 4 overall pick. Oakland, which also holds the Nos. 24 and 27 selections, will meet with tight end Noah Fant, on Monday as well, Rapoport tweets. The Raiders lost their starting tight end of the past two seasons, Jared Cook, in free agency.
  • For weeks, the Jets have been viewed as a team that would love to trade down. They are meeting with a prospect Tuesday that would support the fact this is a consideration. Ed Oliver will visit the Jets, per Schefter (on Twitter). While the defensive tackle is a surefire first-round talent, he has not been mocked as a player who would be a consideration at No. 3 overall.
  • The Titans are visiting with defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, per Rapoport (on Twitter). This is the Notre Dame-developed defender’s second known visit, the first having come with the Saints recently. Tillery remains in rehab after surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum.
  • Not much has surfaced about which teams are researching an Andre Dillard pick. That has changed. The Washington State tackle prospect is visiting the Falcons on Monday and will meet with the Chargers later this week, Schefter tweets. Additionally, Schefter adds the first-round offensive line hopeful has already visited or worked out for a host of teams — the Giants, Jets, Dolphins, Ravens, Titans, Panthers, Vikings, Jaguars, Bills, Texans, Bengals, Packers, Redskins.

Draft Rumors: Giants, Gary, Allen, Bills

The Giants‘ meeting with Kyler Murray got all of the headlines, but the Oklahoma quarterback wasn’t the only big-name prospect to get face time with the club on Thursday. The Giants also hosted Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary and Kentucky pass-rusher Josh Allen, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears.

At this rate, it would be a surprise if Murray is available for either of the Giants’ first-round picks at No. 6 and No. 17. However, Gary and Allen could be in range for a team that is said to be prioritizing pass-rushing. Allen would represent the safer bet based on his college production, but that also means that he could be gone by the time the Giants take the podium. Gary, who boasts serious raw skills, should last a bit longer after tallying just 3.5 sacks last season.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

  • Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor will visit the Panthers on Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Taylor, a 6’5″ lineman, could project as either a right tackle or guard at the next level, which could be helpful for a team that has overhauled its O-Line this offseason.
  • The Bills are set to meet with Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, as Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. Unfortunately for Buffalo, Williams is unlikely to be around at No. 9 overall, so they’ll probably have to trade up in order to land him. Recently, Williams met with New York’s other two teams.
  • The Bears will huddle up with Alabama running back Josh Jacobs, the team announced. Jacobs is widely rated as the best three-down back in this year’s class, but he does not offer the same kind of upside as last year’s top-drafted RB Saquon Barkley. Still, the Bears will have to get creative if they want to land Jacobs – Thanks to the Khalil Mack trade and last year’s move up for wide receiver Anthony Miller, the Bears won’t be on the board until the third round (No. 87 overall).
  • The Bills hosted an interesting mid-round prospect in Buffalo QB Tyree Jackson (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). Jackson could be a natural fit for the Bills as his size and athleticism mirrors that of QB Josh Allen.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/10/19

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

  • Waived: G Parker Ehinger, DT Aziz Shittu

Green Bay Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers