Chris Harris (CB)

Trade Rumors: Carr, Raiders, Peterson, Taylor

We learned earlier this morning that Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson has requested a trade, though the team wants to keep him. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Jackson, on his way to the team bus this morning, declined to comment on the report.

With the trade deadline two days away, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league (Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who says many GMs expect there to be three to five “impactful” deals over the next 48 hours, offers a helpful primer, which includes a list of some of the most-discussed players on the market):

  • Albert Breer of TheMMQB says that the Raiders may not be done dealing just yet, though he does not expect the team to move Derek Carr (indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported this morning that the Raiders have told Carr that he is the quarterback of the present and future). However, Oakland is open to moving Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley, though the Raiders are driving a “hard bargain” with teams interested in Conley.
  • Breer names a number of other players whose names we have not heard in recent rumblings but who could nonetheless be on the move: the PackersHa Ha Clinton-Dix, the 49ersPierre Garcon and Jimmie Ward, the CardinalsChandler Jones, and the BroncosShane Ray and Brandon Marshall. Breers adds that San Francisco would need to get something “significant” to deal Ward. He also says that, while teams are certainly interested in Denver corners Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, he thinks it would be difficult for the team to trade either.
  • If they had elected to trade Patrick Peterson, La Canfora writes that the Cardinals could have received a bounty for him, and may have even landed multiple first-round picks (in fact, several teams were already prepared to offer a first- and second-rounder). JLC reports that Peterson was considered the “crown jewel” of the deadline, and given his attractive contract status, he may be the subject of renewed trade rumors during the offseason.
  • Breer also writes that the Browns are open to trading Tyrod Taylor, whose contract structure could make a deal feasible. Meanwhile, Tony Grossi of ESPN.com suggests that Cleveland GM John Dorsey may be trying to acquire wide receiver help (Twitter link).
  • The Bills remain unlikely to trade LeSean McCoy, per Schefter.
  • Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has demonstrated a proclivity for making trades, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says Maccagnan has been doing his due diligence on everyone, including big-name players. But while there is a sense that New York could swing a deal, the fact that the team is in a no-man’s land between buyer and seller, and the fact that the roster does not have many tradeable pieces, could make a trade difficult to pull off.

Trade Rumors: Raiders, Cooper, Cowboys, Broncos

The trade deadline is just nine days away, and earlier this morning, we learned that the Saints and Eagles could be two of the most aggressive teams as they seek to bolster their rosters for a potential championship run. Here are a few more notes from the trade market:

  • Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link), many Raiders players believe that head coach Jon Gruden is simply not happy with his collection of talent, and that there will be major roster turnover within the next several years. In fact, those players feel it will take up to two years for Gruden to assemble the type of roster he wants, and while rival GMs are not sure they can swing a deal with Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie alone, they believe they can make headway with Gruden. The Raiders are clearly in a state of upheaval right now, and the sense is that everyone on the team is available for the right price.
  • Raiders receiver Amari Cooper is clearly available via trade, and Rapoport says that the team has had the most significant discussions about Cooper with NFC East clubs, including the Cowboys. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms that Dallas is doing its due diligence on Cooper, and Albert Breer of TheMMQB thinks there would be teams willing to part with a second-round choice for him, though it does not seem likely that Oakland will get the first-rounder it is reportedly seeking. Breer reports that the team wants a third-round pick in exchange for safety Karl Joseph.
  • In addition to Cooper, the Cowboys are monitoring Dolphins WR DeVante Parker and Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The Eagles have also spoken to Miami about Parker, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (via Twitter).
  • Teams are very much interested in Broncos receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and corners Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Schefter writes that Denver is willing to part with Thomas, but not Sanders.
  • The Jaguars are not mulling a trade for a quarterback to challenge incumbent Blake Bortles, per Schefter. Despite another mediocre season from Bortles, the Jags “believe that the quarterback position is the least of their issues.”

Extra Points: Bryant, Bell, Cards, ASJ, Harris

Perhaps a “stop us if you’ve heard this before” tagline is appropriate, but Dez Bryant said he intends to sign with a team soon. The former Cowboys wide receiver tweeted “soon” in response to a question about when he planned to end his stay in free agency. This is obviously not the first, second or third time Bryant has discussed his employment plans or hopes, but it’s the latest. Sunday will mark the fourth set of games elapsed without Bryant on a roster. He will turn 30 this season and will be tasked with learning a new offense quickly. It’s not a great situation for the Pro Bowler as October approaches.

Week 4 Sunday is nearly upon us. Here’s what’s going on around the league leading up to it:

  • Another year’s bringing uncertainty opposite Patrick Peterson in Arizona. The Cardinals have struggled for several seasons to fill their No. 2 cornerback job, and the player they acquired to be the latest solution is now in a competition with Bene Benwikere. The Cards benched Jamar Taylor in Week 3 and now have he and Benwikere competing for the other starting job, Bob McManamon of the Arizona Republic notes. These two follow the likes of Brandon Williams and Justin Bethel in the Cardinals’ continuous search to find a reliable starter opposite Peterson. While both players will still play against the Seahawks, per Steve Wilks, this being a competition again is notable given the team’s recent history here.
  • The Jets offered Austin Seferian-Jenkins $8MM over two years, but he chose to depart for Jacksonville for a two-year, $10MM agreement. Nevertheless, Todd Bowles doesn’t begrudge his former tight end for departing for a bit more cash. “Nothing personal,” Bowles said, via John Rowe of NorthJersey.com. “The timing wasn’t right. He got away and that’s just part of free agency every year. We lose some and we keep some. But the guys have done a good job filling in right now.” Eric Tomlinson leads Jets tight ends with three receptions for 45 yards. Seferian-Jenkins’ 50-reception season was the most among Gang Green tight ends since Dustin Keller caught 65 passes for 815 yards in 2011. ASJ, though, only turned his 50 grabs into 357 yards. The new Jags pass-catcher has nine receptions for 66 yards entering Week 4.
  • Gang Green resides as a possible landing spot for Le’Veon Bell, in the view of ESPN’s Josina Anderson (Instagram link). She lists the Jets, Eagles and Packers as being possible fits for the disgruntled running back. The Jets lead this trio with $16MM-plus in cap space. The Eagles hold less than $5MM. Bell is attached to a $10MM-plus prorated version of his franchise tag salary.
  • The Broncos have not found a replacement for Aqib Talib, and Bradley Roby is struggling going into a key game against the Chiefs. This has left Denver’s once-vaunted secondary in trouble, and it continues to force Chris Harris — arguably this decade’s premier slot defender — to play the slot on passing downs. “I like being on the outside because that’s where I can get more picks,’’ Harris said, via 9News’ Mike Klis. “I can read the quarterback more; I can use my coverage skills a lot more. I just think I can make more plays. In the slot, I’m always with my back to the quarterback; I’m man to man most of the time; I can’t see where the ball’s going. So, it’s hard to make those plays.” Late last season, the All-Pro corner expressed a desire to be used on the outside in more than just base sets, but that hasn’t come to pass this season. Denver, which has vacillated between using Adam Jones and Tramaine Brock as its No. 3 corner, ranks 21st against the pass through three games. The team hasn’t finished outside the top five in aerial deterrence in five seasons.

AFC Rumors: Gronk, Luck, Bell, Broncos

Rob Gronkowski is still operating on a contract he signed in 2012, slightly before he placed his name among the all-time tight end greats, but is committed to returning for a ninth season regardless. Reports of Patriots negotiations with Gronkowski on a revised 2018 deal emerged months ago, but nothing’s been resolved. That’s led some other executives around the conference to believe the Patriots are still motivated to trade their superstar pass-catcher.

Where’s the restructure of his contract?” one AFC personnel executive said, via Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal (via NESN.com). “Until that’s done, I think he’s still available. I wouldn’t be surprised if (Bill) Belichick is going to test Gronk’s buy-in with the contract.”

The Pats are believed to have shopped Gronk to the Texans, Titans, Lions and 49ers. The 29-year-old All-Pro remains on New England’s roster but without the kind of pay-bump possibility 2017’s incentive package brought. Three of the five execs Bedard spoke with believe the Pats and Gronkowski will reach an agreement to redo his deal, but the fact that it hasn’t happened yet opens the door to rumblings of a trade — one that wouldn’t be out of character for Belichick. Two other AFC execs expect a harder fight from the Patriots, given that Gronk hinted at retirement and skipped OTAs.

Here’s the latest on some other AFC standouts:

  • On the topic of impasses for All-Pros, Le’Veon Bell remains focused on a deal that represents a combination of his abilities on the ground and through the air — a demand that could be up to $17MM AAV. Although the Steelers‘ talks with their star running back resumed, they are still unlikely to produce a long-term deal, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Fittipaldo is the latest to confirm Bell turned down a contract proposal that would have ensured he made $30MM in 2017 and ’18, adding it was a five-year offer. Bell’s entrance to the league as a 2013 second-round pick, and a player who has earned less than 2016 first-rounder Ezekiel Elliott (since Bell has yet to sign his $14.5MM 2018 tender, this is still accurate), is helping drive Bell to take this hardline stance, per Fittipaldo.
  • While this isn’t exactly full confirmation, signs point to Andrew Luck participating in a passing summit with some of his pass-catchers at his alma mater. Colts wide receiver Chester Rogers tweeted he’s off to Stanford, where Luck spends time training during the offseason. Mike Chappell of Fox 59 assumes Luck will be throwing Rogers and others as he continues the final stages of his exhaustive rehab program. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t qualify as particularly newsworthy. But considering Luck’s progress in June, every throw the passer makes will be relevant as he prepares to surmount what’s been a significant hurdle to return to the field.
  • Chris Harris has some interesting incentives in his contract, one the Broncos adjusted this year. The standout cornerback’s been attached to an incredibly team-friendly deal the past four years, and the Broncos added $3MM in incentives. Some of those escalators can only be triggered by team success, with the six-, eight- and 10-win benchmarks representing possible six-figure bumps for the 29-year-old corner. Harris preferred that being part of his contract. “Last year was unacceptable as a team,” Harris said, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (subscription required) in an expansive piece on Denver’s DBs. “This year I’m putting that in my contract to make sure these guys are on the same page as me, how I think on the field and prepare them for games.”
  • Jhabvala adds that Denver’s Su’a Cravens addition could threaten Will Parks‘ role more than anyone else’s. The third-year defender serves as a backup safety and occasional dime linebacker, and Cravens looks set to make a strong push to assume that role for a team that gave up a fifth-round pick to get him. The Broncos were said to view Cravens strictly as a safety, but the former second-round pick played a hybrid role with the Redskins in 2016.

Broncos Notes: Keenum, Harris, Draft, Dixon

Mock drafts have gone in numerous directions regarding the Broncos‘ No. 5 overall pick, and it’s possible the team could make yet another big investment at the position. But if they do, Case Keenum will not be ceding the reins anytime soon. John Elway confirmed that if the Broncos do select a quarterback at No. 5 overall the recently signed quarterback would be the unquestioned first-stringer.

Case is our starter,’’ Elway said, via Mike Klis of 9News. “We’ll cross that road when we get there. Every situation for young quarterbacks is different. I think it’s different in today’s world, and the fact that it depends on what kind of football team those guys step onto.”

The 2016 Eagles thrust Carson Wentz into duty from the start because they traded Sam Bradford, whereas the 2017 Bears allowed Mike Glennon four starts before turning to Mitch Trubisky. It can be expected Keenum will have a longer leash, if the Broncos opt to bypass a top-tier non-QB.

Here’s the latest out of Denver:

  • The Broncos have gotten All-Pro work from Chris Harris for No. 2 cornerback money over the past three seasons. They’ve agreed to incentivize the eighth-year corner’s deal, and Klis details what that will entail. Harris was a first-team All-Pro in 2016 and a second-teamer in Denver’s Super Bowl season; should he land on one of those two teams this year, he’ll earn $500K. Harris can collect $200K for a two-interception season, and if he reaches five picks, Klis reports that bumps up to $500K. Harris has intercepted two passes in each of the past three seasons. Interestingly, the Broncos’ win total will impact their top corner as well. Klis reports Harris playing 65 percent of Denver’s snaps and the team winning six games will mean a $300K bonus, with a 75 percent snap season and eight Bronco wins meaning that spikes to $600K. Harris, who has an $8.5MM base salary in 2018, has been a full-time player for the past six seasons. If Denver returns to the playoffs, the soon-to-be 29-year-old DB earns $300K.
  • Prior to their trade earlier tonight, the Broncos and Giants had been circling each other about a deal for Riley Dixon for a bit now, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Klis reports (via Twitter) Vance Joseph told the incumbent punter the day the team signed Marquette King he would be moved. Multiple teams were interested in the third-year specialist, per Klis.
  • Elway appears to have evolved on his affinity for cannon-armed QBs. The addition of Keenum, who does not have an upper-echelon arm the way Paxton Lynch does, marked a change of pace for a GM that’s targeted tall passers with strong arms. “I was a lot more six or seven years ago, but then we had Peyton (Manning), right?’’ Elway said, via Klis. “Peyton was more of the cerebral type. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been doing this job as far as what certain quarterbacks have success with.”
  • However, the GM that traded Tim Tebow after a memorable season doesn’t regard it as a must to have a mobile quarterback. “The bottom line is that I believe the one thing is that you got to be able to win from the pocket,” the eighth-year exec said. “You can win games, but you can’t win championships unless you have the ability to win it from the pocket. Then if you can get out and move around and create, and do those types of things then that’s an added bonus.” While the Broncos have been connected to Baker Mayfield, an earlier report indicated they were high on Josh Rosen — the least mobile of the top four QBs in this class.

Broncos Sweeten CB Chris Harris’ Deal

The Broncos have added $3MM in incentives to the contract of cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. for 2018, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Originally slated to make no more than $8.5MM, the corner can now earn up to $10.5MM in 2018. 

It’s somewhat rare for GMs to add incentives to a player’s contract without getting something in return, but it’s completely unprecedented by John Elway‘s administration. This marks the first time that Elway has improved a player’s contract with the addition of bonuses without getting something else (additional years or a lower guarantee) in return.

In 2017, Harris turned in another quality year with 40 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defensed as he graded out as the 29th best corner in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. He has done even better in the past, however, grading out as a top five corner in both 2014 and 2016.

The Broncos also have Harris under contract for the 2019 season with a $8.766MM cap hit. However, if the Broncos choose to part ways with him next year, they can escape with just $867K in dead money.Right now, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which the Broncos would want to cut Harris.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Exercise CB Chris Harris’ Option

The Broncos have exercised the $1.1MM option on cornerback Chris Harris Jr.’s contract for 2018, a league source tells Mike Klis of 9NEWS (on Twitter). Harris is now slated to return with a cap number of $10.36MM for 2018, which presently stands as the sixth-highest charge on the team. 

This was another quality year for Harris as he amassed 40 tackles, two interceptions, seven passes defensed, and graded out as the 29th best corner in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. He has done even better in the past, however, grading out as a top five corner in both 2014 and 2016.

This year, Harris will be extra important to the Broncos as they are likely to move on from veteran Aqib Talib. It’s rare that a team can lose a high-profile vet like Talib without serious external reinforcements, but that’s more or less what Denver will do with both Harris and Bradley Roby under contract. Denver is also set to return with Brendan Langley, Marcus Rios, and Michael Hunter.

Harris is also under contract for 2019 with a $8.766MM cap hit. However, if the Broncos choose to part ways with him next year, they can get out with just $867K in dead money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Staff Notes: Tomsula, Callahan, Bills, Broncos

Jim Tomsula was out of football this season after a 5-11 campaign as San Francisco’s head coach in 2015, but it appears he’s about to resurface. The Redskins are targeting Tomsula, tweets Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, though he doesn’t specify which position the 48-year-old would take in Washington. It seems likely Tomsula would coach the Redskins’ D-line, though, considering he held that role with the Niners from 2007-14. The Redskins have an opening there thanks to the firing of Robb Akey earlier this month.

More on several coaching staffs:

  • Newly minted Rams head coach Sean McVay has already reeled in one experienced coordinator in defensive chief Wade Phillips, and he could next add one on offense in Bill Callahan, reports Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson (Twitter link). Callahan is currently the Redskins’ offensive line coach – McVay, of course, was their offensive coordinator – and has been a coordinator in both Oakland and Dallas.
  • Along with officially hiring Leslie Frazier as their new defensive coordinator, the Bills announced the additions of Juan Castillo (offensive line coach/run game coordinator) and Bob Babich (linebackers) to their coaching staff Friday. They’ll also retain special teams coach Danny Crossman for a fifth season. Castillo, who spent the past four years with the Ravens, was previously a longtime staff member in Philadelphia – where he became familiar with new Bills head coach Sean McDermott. Babich coached the Chargers’ linebackers this past season, which came after a three-year run as the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator.
  • The Broncos have a couple candidates for their special teams coach job in Marwan Maalouf and Derius Swinton II, per Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter links). The Dolphins granted the Broncos permission to interview Maalouf, who’s Miami’s assistant special teams coach. Heading to Denver would mean once again working on the same staff as rookie head coach Vance Joseph, who was the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator in 2016. Swinton is currently the 49ers’ special teams coach, but his future there is in doubt with a new head coach on the way. He worked as the Broncos’ assistant special teams coach from 2013-14.
  • The Browns have hired DeWayne Walker to coach their defensive backs, according to Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com. Walker was in Jacksonville as its DBs coach over the past four years. In going to Cleveland, he’ll reunite with Browns head coach Hue Jackson and new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Walker worked with each of them in previous stops.
  • Chargers defensive line coach Giff Smith, defensive backs coach Ron Milus and assistant DBs coach Chris Harris will remain in place under Anthony Lynn, relays Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link). They could end up on the defensive staff of Gus Bradley, who will interview for the Bolts’ D-coordinator job.

AFC West Rumors: Raiders, Miller, Harris

Las Vegas’ readiness for a potential Raiders commitment was set for a pivotal month, but the status of the city’s negotiations on stadium particulars has experienced a delay. Nevada governor Brian Sandoval extended the Southern Nevada Tourism and Infrastructure Committee a two-month extension for finalizing a stadium plan, the Associated Press reports.

The committee previously faced a deadline to submit a proposal to Sandoval by the end of July, but they’ll now continue to work out details — like the site for the venue and how it will be funded — until as late as Sept. 30. After a Monday meeting, the cost for the Vegas venue appears to have risen from its initial $1.45 billion projection. That figure now hovers between $1.7 billion and $2.1 billion, per the AP report, which also said nine sites came up as locales for a potential future Raiders and UNLV stadium.

Previously, we’d heard the deadline was merely being pushed back until the end of August. But it now appears the Raiders’ season will begin without the franchise knowing if it has a viable path to Nevada.

Here’s more from some Western-stationed franchises, starting with the defending Super Bowl champions.

  • Von Miller‘s threat to sit out the season remains “very real,” Rand Getlin of NFL.com hears (video link). Getlin describes some of Miller’s Broncos teammates as believing he will go through with this if he and the team cannot agree to a long-term contract by 3 p.m. on Friday. The NFL.com reporter still characterizes this deal as one that will be done by Friday, however.
  • Miller, though, has not enjoyed the Broncos’ negotiating methods this offseason, and Mike Klis of 9News now isn’t so sure the sides will agree in time. “They have championship tactics,’’ Miller said, via Klis. “I don’t agree with some of the stuff they do, but obviously it works.” The Broncos have sweetened their offer to Miller. Although it remains a six-year, $114.5MM proposal, a $19MM base salary for 2019 has been moved up to be guaranteed before the start of the 2017 league year. Klis notes that Miller voicing this disapproval after the Broncos enhanced the offer doesn’t bode well, and mentions that the team’s tactics — while having resulted in many extensions during John Elway‘s GM tenure — may have played a role in driving Brock Osweiler, Julius Thomas and Elvis Dumervil out of town.
  • Using 13 past examples of players who’ve chosen to hold out, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report believes the 27-year-old Miller’s value won’t depreciate if he sits out the season. Cole uses Sean Gilbert sitting out the 1997 season as his primary example of a player benefiting because of a holdout. The Redskins defensive lineman turned down a four-year, $13MM offer from Washington and did not sign the then-$3.5MM franchise tag. Both the Dolphins and Panthers put in enticing bids for Gilbert the following year, with Carolina sending two first-round picks to Washington in 1998 and then signing him to a seven-year, $46.5MM deal. It would cost a team a first- and third-round pick — and likely a record-breaking contract — to acquire Miller in 2017 should he sit out what would be his sixth NFL campaign and be tagged again. The Broncos could still match that offer as well.
  • Chris Harris became one of those aforementioned Broncos to sign a team-friendly extension during the past few years, and he argues that Denver’s cornerback wealth helps prevent him from being universally recognized as a top-tier corner. The sixth-year player told NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks that “if [Harris and Aqib Talib] were on other teams, say if I go play for the — just name a team — Jags or something like that, it’d be easy [to be the] No. 1 corner.” The two-time Pro Bowler declined to test free agency in 2015, instead signing a five-year, $42.5MM extension with the Broncos in December of 2014.
  • Signs are pointing to Eric Berry playing the 2016 season for the Chiefs on the franchise tag.

Watt, Bryant, Others Get Salary Guarantees

Several NFL players have contracts containing language which states that they’ll get a full or partial salary guarantees for 2016 and/or 2017 if they remained on their respective teams on Sunday, the fifth day of the league year. Let’s check in on those players (link courtesy of CBS Sports’ Joel Corry):

  • Ryan Tannehill, quarterback (Dolphins): $3.5MM of $17.975MM base salary for 2017 is guaranteed.
  • Dez Bryant, wide receiver (Cowboys): $13MM base salary for 2017 is guaranteed.
  • T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver (Colts): $3MM base salary for 2016 is guaranteed. $6MM roster bonus now "<strongpayable.
  • Anthony Castonzo, offensive tackle (Colts): $2.5MM base salary for 2016 is guaranteed. $4.5MM roster bonus now payable.
  • Tyron Smith, offensive tackle (Cowboys): $10MM base salary for 2016 is guaranteed.
  • Branden Albert, offensive tackle (Dolphins): $6MM of $8.245MM base salary for 2017 is guaranteed.
  • Mike Pouncey, center (Dolphins): $9MM base salary for 2016 is guaranteed, as is $2MM of Pouncey’s $7.95MM base salary in 2017.
  • Maurkice Pouncey, center (Steelers): $3.5MM roster bonus now payable.
  • Cameron Heyward, defensive end (Steelers): $5MM roster bonus now payable.
  • J.J. Watt, defensive end (Texans): $10.5MM base salaries for 2016 and 2017 are guaranteed.
  • Robert Quinn, defensive end (Rams): $7,777,777MM base salary for 2016 is guaranteed.
  • Lavonte David, linebacker (Buccaneers): $5MM base salary for 2016 is guaranteed.
  • Chris Harris Jr., cornerback (Broncos): $6.9MM base salary for 2016 is guaranteed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.