C.J. Mosley (LB)

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Mosley, Steelers

Here’s a quick look at the AFC North:

  • The Jets landed linebacker C.J. Mosley in free agency, but the Ravens went as high as $14MM/year to keep him in Baltimore, according to Albert Breer of The MMQB (Twitter link). Mosley’s new Jets deal, meanwhile, will pay him an average of $17MM/year with $51MM guaranteed.
  • The Steelers restructured the contract of inside linebacker Vince Williams, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The move clears $2.8MM in 2019 cap space for Pittsburgh, but Williams is still due $5.1MM for the coming year. Just last summer, Williams re-upped with the Steelers on a three-year add-on worth upwards of $20MM. In 2018, Williams finished out with 4.5 sacks, 76 tackles, and one interception.
  • Former Jaguars tight end James O’Shaughnessy visited the Steelers this week, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The Steelers recently lost Jesse James in free agency, so O’Shaughnessy could be a depth option behind starter Vance McDonald. O’Shaughnessy, 27, set new career highs with 24 catches for 214 yards last season. He still only has one touchdown catch in his four NFL seasons, a 2017 TD against the 49ers.

Contract Details: Ford, Mosley, Crowder

Some assorted contract details from around the NFL:

Jets To Sign C.J. Mosley

The Jets are making another big splash. Shortly after agreeing to terms with Anthony Barr, the Jets are expected to sign inside linebacker C.J. Mosley to a five-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

The pact will pay Mosley a whopping $85MM, with $51MM in guaranteed money. We knew Mosley was going to cash in, but this is a truly massive number. As Tom Pelissero of NFL Network pointed out in a tweet, Luke Kuechly‘s deal with the Panthers had previously set the market for inside linebackers, with Kuechly making just over $12MM per year. Mosley will have an average salary of $17MM.

When Kwon Alexander, coming off a torn ACL, landed a four-year $54MM deal from the 49ers yesterday, it was a clear sign Mosley was about to break the bank. The acquisition of Mosley will make it easy for the Jets to move on from Darron Lee. We heard last night the Jets were looking to part ways with the 2016 first round pick.

Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has been saying for months the team was going to be aggressive in free agency, and they’ve been exactly that. Mosley’s contract is by far the biggest ever for an inside linebacker. Mosley is still only 26, and young players like him don’t hit the open market too often.

He’s made the Pro Bowl in four of his five seasons in the league, and is a great addition to New York’s rebuilding defense. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is remaking the defense in his image, and has added Mosley to his core of safety Jamal Adams, Barr, defensive lineman Leonard Williams, and fellow inside linebacker Avery Williamson. The Jets have another opportunity to upgrade the defense with the third overall pick in this year’s draft.

The Ravens opted not to franchise-tag Mosley, and have now lost several players from their defense. In addition to Mosley, they let linebackers Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith walk, as well as safety Eric Weddle.

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Ravens Increase Offer For C.J. Mosley

The Ravens chose not to franchise-tag inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want him back. The Ravens are working to retain him and “have sweetened their offer,” according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link).

While the Ravens have upped their offer, Zrebiec notes there “is still a gap” between what Baltimore is offering, and the offers from the Jets and potentially more teams. The Jets have been strongly connected to the Alabama product, and we’ve also heard teams like the Browns and Redskins are interested.

Judging by the deal Kwon Alexander landed from the 49ers, Mosley is about to cash in. Mosley is widely thought to be the better player, and Alexander just got four years and $54MM while coming off a torn ACL. In a separate tweet Zrebiec notes that the Redskins’ signing of Landon Collins might’ve diminished their interest in Mosley.

In the same tweet Zrebiec highlights the Colts as a potential suitor for Mosley in addition to the Browns and Jets. He also says it “sounds like Jets have been the most aggressive with the offer.” The 17th overall pick of the 2014 draft, Mosley has made the Pro Bowl in four of his five seasons in the league and is still only 26, so it makes sense why so many teams are interested.

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Browns Interested In C.J. Mosley

As expected, C.J. Mosley has generated immediate interest during the legal tampering period. In addition to the Jets’ and Redskins’ interest, a Ravens division rival would like to pry the linebacker away from Baltimore.

The Browns are in on the Mosley pursuit, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. They hold north of $68MM in cap space and recently released Jamie Collins, though Cleveland — which has Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey — is not desperate for a linebacker addition. Mosley, however, is far more accomplished than the Browns’ incumbents.

The four-time Pro Bowler may want to reset the market for non-rush linebackers. Collins’ $12.5MM-AAV deal is no longer the standard, and Luke Kuechly‘s $12.4MM-per-year accord tops the market. Of course, with that deal having come several years ago, it would stand to reason Mosley’s camp would want him to top that price.

With Washington having just authorized a safety-record $14MM-AAV pact for Landon Collins, it can be fairly safe to assume that will be the team’s big-money defensive deal. The Browns have far more cap space than the Redskins, but the Jets hold more than both teams. Eric DeCosta said he believed Mosley would be back in Baltimore; that will be a big test for the first-year GM, with the pursuit heating up.

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Jets Interested In C.J. Mosley

The Jets are interested in linebacker C.J. Mosley, a source tells Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter). The Jets have been looking to upgrade at inside linebacker and the Ravens standout would fit the bill. 

[RELATED: Jets Acquire Kelechi Osemele From Raiders]

Mosley, 27 in June, has made four Pro Bowls and has anchored Baltimore’s linebacking corps for years. He is a three-down linebacker who stands to do well in free agency, though the Ravens would like to keep him. By the same token, the Ravens have allowed plenty of impact defenders to leave via free agency in recent years.

Kwon Alexander just reached a handshake deal with the 49ers on a four-year, $54MM deal and it stands to reason that Mosley will aim to top that pact. Mosley has been largely healthy throughout his career while Alexander is coming off of a torn ACL, so his camp will surely use that as a point of argument in negotiations.

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Redskins Shopping Zach Brown, Mason Foster

The Redskins are actively shopping several players in trade talks, including linebackers Zach Brown and Mason Foster, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Meanwhile, the Redskins are also strong players for Ravens free agent linebacker C.J. Mosley

Mosley already figured to have a huge market with teams like the 49ers on his tail. The Redskins, meanwhile, figure to make a strong play for him while overhauling their own LB corps.

Brown was solid in his second season with the Redskins, but he also clashed with coaches. In December, Brown said that he expected to be released in the offseason.

I think they’re just going in a different direction towards everything,” Brown said. “I’m going this direction, they’re going that direction.”

Brown, 29, had 96 tackles and one sack as the Redskins’ inside linebacker last season. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus were extremely high on him, grading him as the third-best LB in the NFL behind only Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly. Brown’s contract runs through 2020, but teams could still have interest in acquiring him.

Foster, 30, has spent hte last four seasons with the Redskins. He’s dealt with injuries in the past, but he started in all 16 games last season en route to compiling 131 tackles, two interceptions, and a sack.

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Jets, 49ers Interested In Kwon Alexander

The Jets and 49ers are interested in Buccaneers free agent linebacker Kwon Alexander, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter) hears. Stroud also hears that Alexander is seeking a deal that would pay him between $10-$12MM. 

Alexander’s 2018 season ended in October after he suffered a torn ACL. Prior to the injury, the linebacker was discussing an extension with the Bucs, though they were unwilling to break the $10MM/year mark for him.

A fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft, Alexander has started 46 games over three-plus years with the Buccaneers. Last season, he posted 38 tackles, two forced fumbles, and one sack while grading as the No. 53 linebacker at the time of his injury, per Pro Football Focus. In 2017, Alexander earned his first career Pro Bowl selection and graded out as PFF’s No. 37 off-ball ‘backer. In 2016, he registered an eye-popping 145 stops.

The Niners are also expected to pursue C.J. Mosley (Ravens) and Anthony Barr (Vikings), according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports, so the linebacker position is high on their agenda.

Given the interest in Alexander, the Bucs are bracing to lose him, Stroud hears. And, on Monday morning, Alexander texted a group of his teammates telling them he’s going to miss them, a source tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter).

The Buccaneers are in a similar boat with wide receiver Adam Humphries, says Stroud, since Humphries is expected to garner offers of $9MM-$10MM on the open market.

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NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Cardinals, Mosley, Vikings

The Buccaneers have an interesting offseason ahead of them. They have a lot of holes to fill on the roster as Bruce Arians takes over as coach, but not much cap space to work with. In a recent piece, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com previewed their offseason. Overall, Laine isn’t too bullish on their ability to add many big names. The Bucs have been linked to some high-end free agents like Le’Veon Bell, but Laine cautions they’d need to make a bunch of moves to make his potential salary fit. One of their own, receiver Adam Humphries, is set to be a free agent, and Humphries will reportedly be a hot commodity. Sources told Laine that Humphries is seeking a deal worth $8MM annually, which is actually slightly less than the $10MM we heard he was looking for yesterday. 

Either way, it sounds like Humphries might get priced out of the Buccaneers‘ range. Laine also reports no decision has been made yet on fellow receiver DeSean Jackson as he heads into the final year of his contract, but writes that “lack of cap space may force their hand” into releasing or trading him. In her piece Laine also throws out some names who could be cut to create cap space, like ” defensive end William Gholston ($3.75 million against the cap in 2019), defensive tackle Beau Allen ($5 million), defensive tackle Mitch Unrein ($3.75 million).”

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • The Falcons made major shakeups to their coaching staff after their disappointing 2018 season. All three coordinators were let go, and now Atlanta is making another coaching change. The Falcons have hired Jess Simpson to be their new defensive line coach, as current defensive line coach Bryant Young is stepping down, according to Will McFadden of the team’s official website. Simpson comes to the Falcons from the University of Miami, where he served as defensive line coach. In 2017 he was a defensive assistant on the Falcons’ staff, so there’s some familiarity here.
  • We heard yesterday that some Ravens players thought C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs could re-team in Arizona, and now there’s more smoke to that fire. The “Cardinals are expected to make a big push” for Mosley if the Ravens don’t lock him up before free agency starts, sources told Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. Mosley to the desert seems to be picking up some steam, and it makes sense. Mosley is still only 26, and would be a very nice pickup for this rebuilding Cardinals team.
  • Vikings running back Roc Thomas was arrested and charged with felony drug possession, according to Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Thomas was arrested in January after “police found 143.28 grams of marijuana” in his apartment. Thomas is due back in court on March 18th. Thomas was a rookie undrafted free agent last year, and made Minnesota’s initial 53-man roster after an impressive preseason. He was cut midway through the season and re-signed to the practice squad, and signed a reserve/futures contract at the end of the year. He’s likely to face discipline from the league when this all gets sorted out.

Terrell Suggs Could Leave Ravens?

Although the Ravens would like to re-sign Terrell Suggs, the veteran pass rusher will have a solid market in free agency, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link), who adds there is a “very real possibility” Suggs will not be in Baltimore in 2019.

The Ravens had made Suggs an offer, tweets La Canfora, but the two sides aren’t close on the numbers. While Baltimore expects to continue conversations with Suggs, there is no deal considered imminent. Although Suggs is entering his age-37 campaign, he’s given no hint that he’s ready to retire, and fully plans to continue his career next season.

The Cardinals could become a destination for both Suggs and fellow Ravens free agent C.J. Mosley, as La Canfora writes in a separate piece that the some of the duo’s Baltimore teammates believe the pair could head to the desert. The Ravens opted not to use the franchise tag on Mosley, which would have allowed him to collect a fully guaranteed salary of $15.443MM next year.

Despite his advanced age, there aren’t many signs Suggs is slowing down. He played 744 defensive snaps in 2018, second-most among Baltimore’s front seven defenders (trailing only Mosley). During that time, Suggs posted seven sacks and ranked as the NFL’s 36th-best edge defender among 103 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

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