Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders moves will be noted below.
Here are Wednesday’s AFC West transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.
The Broncos are expected to bring back both Fleming and Stephen, Paton said (via Denver7’s Troy Renck, on Twitter), with running back Mike Boone and cornerback Michael Ojemudia bound for the regular-season IR list. Both backups are set to miss time to start the season, but the Broncos carried each onto the 53-man roster and will plan for their in-season returns.
Because Fleming and Stephen are vested veterans, they do not need to clear waivers in order to re-sign with the Broncos. Denver signed both Fleming and Stephen this offseason. While Fleming competed with fellow addition Bobby Massie, the latter won the Broncos’ right tackle job. Bassey and Dawson can return after six weeks, though the Broncos’ cornerback contingent is much deeper than last season — to the point the roster may not have room for both. Ojemudia would stand to be Denver’s No. 5 corner upon returning.
During an appearance on HBO’s The Shop: Uninterrupted, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady discussed his reactions to a potential 2020 free agent suitor pulling out of the sweepstakes to stick with their incumbent signal-caller.
“There was a story, in free agency, one of the teams, they were interested and all of sudden they weren’t interested at the very end,” Brady said. “I was sitting there thinking, you’re stick with that [expletive]? Are you serious?
“When I look back I’m like, there’s no [expletive] way I would’ve went to that team. But they said they didn’t want me. I know what that means, I know what that feels like.”
There’s been plenty of speculation about the mystery team and quarterback that Brady was referring to, and Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com cites multiple league sources who believe the future Hall of Famer was referring to the Raiders and Derek Carr. Las Vegas had been mentioned as a potential Brady suitor during the 2020 offseason, but the organization dropped out of the sweepstakes after balking at Brady’s long list of requests. As Florio notes, Brady had his chance at payback last season, when he tossed four touchdowns in a 45-20 Tampa Bay victory over Las Vegas.
Unless Brady unexpectedly reveals who he was talking about, we’ll never truly know if it was the Raiders. Plenty of other teams and quarterbacks have been mentioned, including the Bears/Mitch Trubiskyand the Titans/Ryan Tannehill. The 49ers and former teammate Jimmy Garoppolo have been a popular suggestion, but considering Brady’s lifelong affinity for San Francisco (and his declaration that he was never going to sign with that team in the first place), we can probably cross them off the list.
Here’s more out of the AFC West…
Quinton Jefferson has played all over the defensive line during his five-year career, but despite the Raiders depth at defensive tackle, the team is still planning to play their free agent acquisition at his natural position. The 28-year-old will be teaming up with the Raiders main offseason acquisition, defensive tackle Yannick Ngakoue, and Jefferson is excited to form a two-headed monster with his good friend and former college teammate. “Yannick is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL right now and he brings that intensity,” Jefferson told The Athletic’s Vic Tafur. “He is going to bring some pressure and help relieve Maxx (Crosby), free Maxx up so that other teams can’t key on one guy. And then hopefully I can bring some interior pressure as well, so we should have a good mix out there. I am excited to see how that all comes together.”
The Broncos brought in both Bobby Massie and Cameron Fleming to compete for the starting right tackle spot, and ESPN’s Jeff Legwold believes Massie will get the first shot at the gig. Massie certainly has the advantage when it comes to experience; the 31-year-old has started 110 of his 118 career games, including each of his eight games in 2020. Meanwhile, Fleming has mostly served as backup throughout his career (91 games, 42 starts), although he did start a career-high 16 games for the Giants last season.
The Browns made some front office hires recently, and for one spot they simply plucked a player off their roster. Cleveland has hired Anthony Fabiano as a scouting assistant, the team announced in a release alongside a bunch of other names. Fabiano is a 2016 UDFA from Harvard, who spent the past handful of years bouncing around the bottom of various teams’ rosters as an offensive lineman.
He started a game for the Browns as a rookie in 2016, and then started another for the Colts in 2017. All told, he spent at least a bit of time with nine different teams. He was signed by the Browns back in January right as their season was about to end, and didn’t appear in a game. Given his Ivy League education, it’s not too surprising he had an easy time transitioning to the front office.
Here’s more from around the AFC:
It was initially reported that Eric Fisher‘s one-year deal with the Colts would pay him $9.4MM in 2021, but it turns out it’s a bit less than that. Fisher’s 2021 compensation will actually be $8.38MM, veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweets. It’s only $6MM guaranteed. It includes a $4MM signing bonus, a $2MM guaranteed salary, and then $2.38MM in per game active roster bonuses. Wilson also notes that it’s technically a two-year pact with 2022 automatically voiding for cap purposes.
The Broncos have added another potential option to fill in for injured right tackle Ja’Wuan James. Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that Denver has signed offensive tackle Cameron Fleming. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports (via Twitter) that it’s a one-year deal worth up to $3.67MM.
Following news that James had torn his Achilles, the Broncos brought in four offensive tackles for auditions: Fleming, Bobby Massie, Dennis Kelly, and Jermaine Eluemunor. The team added Massie yesterday on a one-year, $4MM deal, but the Broncos front office is assuring they have enough depth to make up for James’ absence.
Fleming started 16 games for the Giants last year. However, the G-Men let him walk after his one-year, $3.5MM deal expired. Before that, Fleming spent four seasons in New England and two in Dallas playing under Joe Judge and Jason Garrett. From 2017-2020, Fleming played between 230-400 snaps per season, working as a part-time starter throughout that stretch.
Fleming and Massie will likely go head-to-head for the starting gig, with Calvin Anderson and Ryan Pope also competing for the job. Whoever wins the starting position will be the Broncos’ ninth Week 1 Broncos right tackle starter in nine years.
Fleming started 16 games for the Giants last year. However, the G-Men let him walk after his one-year, $3.5MM deal expired. Before that, Fleming spent four seasons in New England and two in Dallas playing under Joe Judge and Jason Garrett. From 2017-2020, Fleming played between 230-400 snaps per season, working as a part-time starter throughout that stretch. If all goes well, the former fourth-round pick could spend his age-29 season in Denver.
Ja’Wuan James‘ latest injury has left the Broncos searching high and low for answers. The Broncos furnished James with a four-year, $51MM deal in 2019. Unfortunately, between knee trouble, a 2020 opt-out, and his new Achilles tear, James has seen just 63 snaps as a Bronco.
This won’t come as a big shock, but the Giants want to re-sign defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, as Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv writes. New York, however, has virtually no cap room at the moment, so GM Dave Gettleman will have his work cut out for him in trying to bring back Tomlinson and fellow D-lineman Leonard Williams.
It won’t be overly difficult to clear between $20MM-$30MM of cap space with a few obvious releases and restructures, but it’s not as though Tomlinson and Williams are Big Blue’s only priorities. The team still has major holes at wide receiver, O-line, and cornerback, so it remains to be seen if Gettleman will be able to keep his defensive front intact.
Tomlinson, Pro Football Focus’ 25th-best interior defender out of 126 qualified players in 2020, could pull down a multi-year pact worth $8MM-$10MM per season. But Vacchiano suggests that he might also be one of those players whose earning power will be weakened as a result of the reduced salary cap, so the 2017 second-rounder may opt for a one-year pact with an eye towards a return trip to free agency in 2022, when the cap may increase dramatically.
Of course, a one-year deal means that the Giants would not be able to spread out any of Tomlinson’s cap charges. So while Vacchiano believes that such an arrangement could represent New York’s best chance to bring Tomlinson back, that might only be true if his market does not bear much fruit.
Williams, meanwhile, is still shooting for the $20MM/year contract he has been seeking for some time, and given his 2020 breakout, there’s a good chance he’ll get it. He was finally able to start converting QB hits into sacks last season, finishing the year with 11.5 sacks and grading out as PFF’s 15th-best interior defender. His abilities to get to the quarterback and to stop the run make him a complete player, and even though there is some concern that he could regress to the level of solid-but-not-great play he displayed with the Jets, he is not likely to get anything less than an $18MM AAV with up to $60MM in guarantees.
Vacchiano confirms a report from last March that the Giants were unwilling to offer a long-term deal to Williams that averaged his 2020 franchise tag value of $16.1MM. At the time, that made perfect sense from New York’s perspective, but Williams was unwilling to go that low, so he chose to bet on himself (and won). This year, a franchise or transition tag for either Williams or Tomlinson would seem to be cost-prohibitive, though Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) says the $19.3MM franchise tag for Williams should not be ruled out (which makes sense if Williams is looking at a $20MM/year long-term deal).
Paul Schwartz of the New York Post unsurprisingly says Williams must be retained, but like Vacchiano, he concedes that keeping Tomlinson could be a little tougher. And assuming Williams is brought back, the club will certainly not be able to be as active in free agency as it was last year, even though the Giants do not have any other free agents of their own that qualify as major priorities. As such, New York may need to make savvy, under-the-radar signings to boost its O-line, especially at right tackle. Last year’s 16-game RT starter, Cameron Fleming, will not be re-signed as a starter, Schwartz writes.
AustinBlythe, OL (Rams): One year. Worth $3.9MM, including $3.5MM guaranteed. $950K signing bonus, $2.95MM salary (of which $2.55MM is guaranteed).
PeytonBarber, RB (Redskins): Two year, $3MM. Includes $600K signing bonus. Salaries: $910K (2020), $1.14MM (2021). $150K per-game maximum roster bonus in 2020, $199K+ per-game maximum roster bonus in 2021.
MaxGarcia, OL (Cardinals): Re-signed. One-year, $1.25MM deal, including $600K guaranteed. Up to $190K per-game maximum roster bonus, up to $1MM in playing time incentives.
CameronFleming, OL (Giants): Signed. One-year, $3.5MM deal (as opposed to previously-reported one-year, $4MM deal). Includes $2MM guaranteed. Up to $500K per-game roster bonus, up to $500K playing time incentives.
KerryHyder, DE (49ers): One year. $1.5MM, including $550K guaranteed. Up to $250K in per-game roster bonus.
Dennis Kelly (Titans), Three years, $17.25MM, $8.75MM guaranteed, $4.75MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $1.5MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $4.5MM ($2.5MM guaranteed for injury at signing, fully guaranteed if on roster 5th day of 2021 league year); 2022: $5MM; $400k annual per-game roster bonus, $750K incentives available in 2021-22; $1MM escalator in base salary for 2021-22, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
Robert Quinn, (Bears): Five years, $70MM, $30MM guaranteed, $3MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $3MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $11.5MM (fully guaranteed), 2022: $12.8MM, 2023: $13.9MM, 2024: $12.9MM; $12.5MM fully guaranteed roster bonus in 2020, $100k annual workout bonuses from 2021-2024, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Andrew Whitworth, (Rams): Three years, $30MM, $12.5MM guaranteed, $5MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $5MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $7MM ($2.5MM guaranteed), 2022: $7.5MM; $2.5MM 2021 roster bonus guaranteed next week, $3MM 2022 roster bonus due six days before 2022 league year, $1.5MM annual incentives, $1.5MM base escalators in 2021-22, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitterlinks).
The Cowboys opted not to pick up Cameron Fleming‘s option earlier this week, and the Giants are making a move to add him. Big Blue and the free agent tackle agreed to terms on a one-year deal Wednesday night, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.
The longtime Patriot uniquely has a history with both Joe Judge and Jason Garrett, spending four seasons in New England and two in Dallas. The former Cowboys and Pats backup will be first in line to be the Giants’ right tackle starter, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY adds (via Twitter).
Fleming has played between 230-400 snaps in each of the past four seasons, working as a part-time starter throughout this stretch. The Giants are in the market for a new right tackle; they let 2019 starter Mike Remmers hit the market. With Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula out of the mix, it is expected Remmers will be elsewhere in 2020.
The former Patriots fourth-round pick will be entering his age-28 season. He has started 26 games in his career but never more than seven in a season. This could be a major opportunity for the veteran, though the Giants figure to be in the market for tackles in the draft as well.