Carl Nassib

Contract Restructures: Graham, Nassib, Ryan

With the start of Week 1 quickly approaching, NFL front offices are still finding ways to open some cap space. A handful of players restructured their contracts today, and we’ve compiled some of the notable transactions below:

  • TE Jimmy Graham, Bears: Converted $5.825MM of salary into signing bonus, opening $4.66MM in cap space while also adding four voidable years to contract (via ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter). The veteran inked a two-year, $16MM deal with the Bears prior to last season, and he finished his first season in Chicago with 50 receptions for 456 yards and eight touchdowns.
  • DE Carl Nassib, Raiders: Converted $2.51MM of salary into a signing bonus, opening $2.008MM in cap space (via ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter). Nassib inked a three-year, $25MM deal (including $16.75MM guaranteed) with the Raiders last offseason. The 28-year-old got into 14 games (five starts) during his first season in Las Vegas, finishing with 28 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and nine QB hits.
  • DB Logan Ryan, Giants: Converted “most of the base salary” into signing bonus (per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter). The veteran was set to earn around $5.5MM this upcoming season. After inking a one-year deal with the Giants last offseason, Ryan signed a three-year, $31MM extension (with $20MM guaranteed) in December. After switching from cornerback to safety, Ryan finished his first season in New York with 94 tackles, three forced fumbles, nine passes defended, and one interception.
  • OT Duane Brown, Seahawks: Converted $7MM of base salary into signing bonus, saving the team $3.5MM in cap space. After skipping training camp in pursuit of an extension, we learned earlier today that the veteran lineman got an extra year tacked onto his contract. Indeed, as veteran reporter John Clayton points out, Brown got an extra year “with an injury protection benefit for 2022.”

Extra Points: Nassib, Twyman, Buccaneers

In a post on Instagram, Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib announced that he was gay, making the 28-year-old the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib also made an $100K donation to the Trevor Project, a foundation which provides “crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.”

Support for Nassib was wide spread:

“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Representation matters. We share his hope that someday soon statements like his will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”

Our union supports Carl and his work with the Trevor Project is proof that he – like our membership – is about making his community and this world a better place not for themselves, but for others,” said NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith (via Twitter).

Raiders owner Mark Davis also showed his support for Nassib, noting that the announcement “doesn’t change my opinion of Carl as a man or as a Raider” (via Sam Farmer of the LA Times on Twitter).

Nassib joined the Raiders last offseason on a three-year, $25MM deal with $17MM guaranteed. He finished his first season in Las Vegas with 28 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and nine QB hits in 14 games (five starts).

More news from around the NFL:

  • Vikings rookie defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman was shot four times today in Washington D.C., reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Fortunately, the Pitt product is expected to make a full recovery, with agent Drew Rosenhaus noting that there were “superficial, exit wounds” and that his client was simply in the “wrong place, wrong time.” Twyman does not need surgery and x-rays were negative. Minnesota drafted the defensive lineman in the sixth round (No. 199) in this past year’s draft.
  • The Vikings also released a statement regarding the shooting: “We have been in direct contact with Jaylen and his family, and we are extremely thankful Jaylen is expected to make a full recovery. At this time we will defer any further comment to the proper authorities.”
  • Earlier this month, we learned that Buccaneers rookie Cameron Kinley had been denied a waiver to delay his commission from the U.S. Navy. “Cameron Kinley is an exceptional young man and a shining example of the type of high-character individuals that make our nation’s military the most elite in the world,” the Buccaneers said in a statement (via Rick Stroud on Twitter). “We appreciate and support the United States Naval Academy’s position with regards to Cameron’s fulfillment of his post-graduate service commitment and remain hopeful that he will one day have an opportunity to also fulfill his dreams of playing professional football.”
  • Earlier this month, former Chiefs coach Britt Reid pleaded not guilty to a DWI charge that stemmed from a crash that critically injured a young girl (per the AP). Reid was placed on administrative leave following the crash, and the team ultimately let his contract expire.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Raiders, Chiefs

For several months, the Broncos have been linked to adding a quarterback that would at least provide Drew Lock with competition. No such move has transpired, but James Palmer of NFL.com notes GM George Paton is doing extensive research on this year’s crop of QB prospects (video link). Paton attended Trey Lance‘s pro day and mentioned last month that the team will consider a passer at No. 9 overall. However, Palmer expects the Broncos to also be in play for a trade-up — should the team become infatuated with one of the available arms.

While the Broncos are doing homework on all five of the top quarterbacks, they realistically only have a shot at two of them. This draft is, as of now, expected to begin with Trevor Lawrence going to the Jaguars and Zach Wilson heading to New York. Now in possession of the No. 3 overall pick, the 49ers have been linked to Mac Jones more so than Lance or Justin Fields. The Broncos believe Lock will improve next season and do not want to make a quarterback transaction for the sake of making one. Lock was without top receiver Courtland Sutton for most of last season and was transitioning to a new offense without the benefit of onsite offseason work, but he ranked 29th in QBR and led the league in INTs despite missing three games.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Prior to the Cardinals using the transition tag on Kenyan Drake, Jon Gruden was interested in signing the running back last year, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required). The Raiders showed significantly more interest in Drake than anyone else this offseason, per Drake, whom Gruden plans using in the backfield and at wide receiver. Drake’s two-year, $11MM deal includes just $3MM guaranteed in 2021, per Tafur, but carries $5.5MM in guarantees in 2022. Drake totaled just 127 receiving yards with the Cardinals last season, but the former third-round pick should be expected to play a bigger role in the passing game in Las Vegas.
  • The Chiefs hired former defensive coordinator Ken Flajole to replace Britt Reid as outside linebackers coach, the team announced. Flajole’s most notable NFL role came when he served as Rams DC during Steve Spagnuolo‘s three-year stay (2009-11). The Rams went just 10-38 during that stretch. Flajole, 66, will come to Kansas City after spending the past five seasons as Philadelphia’s linebackers coach under Doug Pederson. Reid is no longer with the Chiefs and remains under NFL investigation. Following his February car accident that left a 5-year-old in critical condition, the Chiefs let Reid’s contract expire.
  • The Raiders considered cutting their losses on Carl Nassib‘s three-year, $25MM contract, Tafur adds, but the team instead decided to keep the rotational pass rusher on a restructured deal (subscription required). The team added three void years to Nassib’s contract, spreading out the cap hit through 2025. Nassib is on the Raiders’ cap sheet at just $4.9MM this year; that number rises to $9.2MM in 2022. Releasing Nassib next year would tag the Raiders with a $4.6MM dead-money hit.
  • Drafted third overall as a defensive end four years ago, Solomon Thomas will primarily work as a three-technique tackle with the Raiders, according to Tafur. Thomas is in line to replace Maliek Collins, who defected to the Texans in free agency. A four-year 49ers contributor, Thomas has not come close to living up to his top-five draft status. The Raiders gave him a one-year deal worth $3.25MM.

AFC West Notes: Bell, Broncos, Nassib, Bolts

Less than an hour after Le’Veon Bell‘s Jets departure became official, rumors about his new team are surfacing. While Bell’s suitor list is not yet known, many around the league expect the Chiefs to be interested in the former All-Pro back, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Chiefs made a somewhat similar move last year, signing LeSean McCoy — after the Bills cut him — to play behind then-starter Damien Williams. Kansas City used a first-round pick on Clyde Edwards-Helaire but has lower-profile backs Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson — after Damien Williams’ July opt-out — backing up the rookie. Bell, whose disappointing Jets stay secured him nearly $30MM, will prioritize his fit in an offense and a team’s chances of contending before choosing his next destination, per Fowler. Bell returned in Week 5 from a hamstring injury and averaged 4.62 yards per carry on 13 totes in the Jets’ loss to the Cardinals.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • While Cam Newton‘s return to the Patriots’ active roster points to the Broncos facing him and not Jarrett Stidham this week, Drew Lock also appears on the verge of a return. The Denver starter participated fully in practice Wednesday. A Week 6 return would be in the timeframe initially set after Lock’s Week 2 shoulder injury. The Broncos used two different starters, running their post-Peyton Manning total to nine, in Lock’s absence. Were Lock to be held out another week, Brett Rypien would be in line to log a second start.
  • Mark Barron‘s Broncos debut remains on hold. On IR because of a hamstring injury, Barron suffered a pectoral malady that will delay his return to action, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. The Broncos signed Barron late in the summer, but the former first-round pick does not have a clear-cut return date.
  • The Raiders are also going to be without a rotational defender for a bit. Carl Nassib suffered a broken toe during the team’s win over the Chiefs, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). It is, in fact, a big toe injury. The former Browns and Buccaneers pass rusher will likely be out a while, though a concrete timetable does not exist yet. An offseason addition, Nassib has played just more than a fourth of Las Vegas’ defensive snaps this season.
  • The Dolphins recently promoted running back Salvon Ahmed to their active roster. They did so after the Chargers expressed interest in poaching Ahmed off Miami’s practice squad, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Chargers are down Austin Ekeler presently and have just two backs — Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley — on their active roster. A rookie UDFA out of Washington, Ahmed has yet to dress for an NFL game.

Contract Details: Nassib, Alonso, Jefferson

Some more contract details from around the league:

  • DE Carl Nassib, Raiders: signed. Three-year, $25MM deal with $17MM guaranteed, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The deal has a max value of $28MM.
  • LB Kiko Alonso, Saints: restructured contract. Base salary reduced from $6.4MM to $1.7MM, $4.7MM available in incentives. Already has $1.45MM roster bonus, meaning he can still hit his previous $7.85MM total via playing-time bonuses. All notes via ESPN’s Mike Triplett on Twitter.
  • DE Quinton Jefferson, Bills: two-year deal. Contract worth $13.5MM total, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano on Twitter.
  • FB Derek Watt, Steelers: signed. Three-year deal worth $9.75MM, according to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor on Twitter.
  • LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, Dolphins: one-year deal. Contract worth $3MM, including $2MM signing bonus, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo on Twitter. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets that there’s up to $500K in playing time incentives.

Raiders Agree To Terms With Carl Nassib

The Raiders are staying busy, this time bolstering their pass-rush. Las Vegas has agreed to terms with free agent defensive end Carl Nassib, Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune tweets.

Nassib originally became widely known to football fans as a ‘Hardknocks’ star during training camp with the Browns in 2018 when they were featured on the hit HBO series. He was waived by Cleveland at final cuts, but was quickly claimed by Tampa Bay. He thrived with the Buccaneers, racking up 6.5 sacks that year. This past season he had six more in 14 games while playing around 55 percent of the defensive snaps.

It will be interesting to see what the terms are, but it’s likely that Vegas didn’t have to break the bank for him. Overall, it’s a nice under the radar signing. Nassib was originally a walk-on at Penn State, and played sparingly his first few years. He came out of nowhere to dominate in his senior season, racking up 15.5 sacks and winning the Hendricks Award for the nation’s top defensive end.

The Raiders have struggled to generate a consistent rush in recent years, and they had only 32 sacks as a team last season. They also agreed to terms with defensive tackle Maliek Collins Tuesday to further bolster the defensive front.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bruce Arians Talks Buccaneers’ Offseason Priorities

While impending free agent quarterback Jameis Winston may be stealing headlines, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is more focused on retaining his team’s top defenders.

“Oh, yeah. To me, it’s the whole defense,” Arians told ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “You can’t get ’em all, but … those young guys grew. We can’t let that go. I don’t care who’s my quarterback. We’ve gotta have a defense.”

Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett is the most notable defender hitting free agency, and he should be in line for a lucrative payday after compiling an NFL-high 19.5 sacks last season. Many of Barrett’s defensive teammates are also set to hit the open market, including players Jason Pierre-PaulCarl NassibNdamukong SuhBeau Allen and Rakeem Nunez-Roches.

On the offensive side of the ball, it doesn’t sound like Arians is all that concerned about who’s under center. The head coach did admit that it’s tough to have any clarity on the quarterbacks position considering the uncertainty of free agency.

“You don’t know who’s available,” Arians said. “You just sit there and wait to see, is there someone available. If not, is this a better option. That’s the problem. You get about two days to decide in the legal tampering period.”

One of the team’s options will naturally be Winston, who spent the first five seasons of his career in Tampa Bay. Winston set career-highs in passing yards (5,109) and touchdowns (33) in 2019, but he also set a career-high (and led the NFL) with 30 interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2019 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $2MM in 2019. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

Bears: RB Jordan Howard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

Broncos: G Connor McGovern, S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons

Browns: S Derrick Kindred, LB Joe Schobert

Buccaneers: G Caleb Benenoch, DE Carl Nassib, CB Ryan Smith

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown

Chiefs: CB Kendall Fuller, WR Tyreek Hill, S Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson

Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett, T Joe Haeg

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown, DT Maliek Collins, QB Dak Prescott

Dolphins: RB Kenyan Drake

Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, G Wes Schweitzer

Jaguars: DE Yannick Ngakoue

Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Rashard Robinson, T Brandon Shell

Lions: C Graham Glasgow

Packers: LB Kyler Fackrell, DE Dean Lowry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Antonio Morrison

Patriots: G Joe Thuney, LB Elandon Roberts

Rams: G Austin Blythe, TE Tyler Higbee

Ravens: DE Matt Judon, OL Alex Lewis, CB Tavon Young

Saints: DT David Onyemata

Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

Texans: DT D.J. Reader

Titans: S Kevin Byard, WR Tajae Sharpe

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Buccaneers Claim DL Carl Nassib

One of the stars of this year’s Hard Knocks has found a home. Carl Nassib was claimed by the Buccaneers off waivers, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). 

Nassib made the Browns’ initial 53-man roster, but was waived the next day to make room for the Browns’ waiver claims. Nassib was a third round pick in 2016, and never was terrible with the Browns, but the team decided to move on because of their increased depth at the position.

Last year Nassib, appeared in all 16 games for Cleveland, making 12 starts. He had 19 tackles with three sacks and five passes defended. He finished his career in Cleveland with 34 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and nine passes defended total.

He’ll now join a unit in Tampa Bay where he should have the opportunity to make an immediate impact. The Bucs’ pass-rushing group isn’t nearly as deep as Cleveland’s is, so it’s a great landing spot for Nassib. The former Penn State Nittany Lion, who set a school record with 15.5 sacks his senior season, should get a chance to re-invent himself.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link), the Bucs are releasing veteran defensive end Will Clarke to make room for Nassib on the roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC North

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC North teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Ravens, Bengals, Browns, and Steelers are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s AFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Baltimore Ravens

Practice squad:

Cincinnati Bengals

Signed:

Practice squad:

Cleveland Browns

Claimed:

Cut:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Practice squad:

* = international player
** = practice squad exception