Christian Jones

Contract Details: Jordy, Glennon, Incognito

Let’s take a look at the most recent new contracts and restructures around the NFL:

New Contracts

  • Jordy Nelson, WR (Raiders): Two years, $14.2MM. $13MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com).
  • Mike Glennon, QB (Cardinals): Two-year, $8MM deal contains void years in 2020 and 2021. $4MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com).
  • Spencer Long, C (Jets): Four years, $27.5MM. $6MM guaranteed (link via Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap).
  • Jaron Brown, WR (Seahawks): Two years, $5.5MM. $2.75MM guaranteed. $1.95MM signing bonus. $750K available annually via receptions, yards, and touchdowns incentives (Twitter link via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com).
  • Christian Jones, LB (Lions): Two years, $6.35MM. $2.8MM guaranteed. $1.75MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com).
  • Kyle Wilber, LB (Raiders): Two years, $2.75MM. $1.4MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of SiriusXM).
  • Billy Turner, OL (Broncos): One year, $2MM. $750K guaranteed. $500K signing bonus (Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9News).

Restructures

  • Richie Incognito, G (Bills): 2018 base salary reduced from $6.325MM to $3.65MM. Earned $1MM bonus. Bills created $1.675MM in cap space (Twitter link via Yates).
  • John Jerry, G (Giants): 2019 contract season eliminated. 2018 base salary reduced from $3.05MM to $1.075MM, $525K of which is guaranteed. $400K roster bonus added and paid on 3/21. Per-game roster bonuses increased from $250K to $500K (all Twitter links via Dan Duggan of NJ.com). Giants created $525K in cap space.

Lions To Sign LB Christian Jones

Former Bears linebacker Christian Jones plans to sign a two-year deal with the Lions, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Jones’ new contract is a two-year deal worth $7.75MM, including a $2.8MM signing bonus, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Jones had spent the previous four seasons with the Bears.

Jones, 27, made 11 starts for Chicago last season. On the year, he racked up 84 total tackles and two sacks with two passes defended. Jones graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 64-ranked linebacker last season. That’s not excellent, but Tahir Whitehead and Jarrad Davis were the only Lions LBs to finish higher.

The intra-NFC North defection will represent more turnover for the Bears at inside linebacker this offseason. The team already cut Jerrell Freeman, whom Jones replaced in the starting lineup. Freeman initially replaced Jones after he signed with Chicago in 2016, with Jones — a former UDFA — starting 13 games for the Bears in 2015. He returned to the first unit by making 11 starts last season and now figures to play a prominent role in Detroit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Re-Sign Christian Jones

The Bears announced that they’ve re-signed linebacker Christian Jones to a one-year deal. Jones was a restricted free agent, so Chicago presumably inked him for something less than the $1.797MM original round RFA tender.Christian Jones (Vertical)

Jones, 26, was a full-time starter for the Bears as recently as 2015, when he started 15 games for the club. That year, he played over 70% of Chicago’s defensive plays and picked up 59 tackles. But when the Bears signed veteran ‘backers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman last offseason, Jones lost his starting gig.

The Bears shopped Jones before last season, but after not finding any takers, they placed Jones in a special teams role. Although he appeared in all 16 games in 2016, Jones only started two contests, instead picking up most of his playing time through 323 special teams snaps. He posted five tackles in that space, and will likely continue on as a special teamer in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Shopping Three Defenders

The Bears have told other clubs that defensive lineman Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton, as well as linebacker Christian Jones, can be had via trade, sources tell Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. As Biggs notes, Chicago is unlikely to acquire anything meaningful for any of that trifecta, and all three are in danger of being cut.Christian Jones (Vertical)

The Bears are in the process of overhauling their defense, and GM Ryan Pace clearly isn’t interested in keeping players who were brought in by the team’s previous administration (all three of Ferguson, Sutton, and Jones were acquired in 2014). Of the three, Jones is the most experienced, as he played over 70% of Chicago’s defensive plays a year ago, starting 13 games and picking up 59 tackles. But given that the Bears have signed both Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman, there doesn’t seem to be a role for the 25-year-old Jones.

Sutton and Ferguson, meanwhile, played roughly 40% and 10%, respectively, of the Bears’ defensive plays during their sophomore campaigns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

How The Cowboys Could Replace Rolando McClain

For the second consecutive season, Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain will serve a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse. In 2015, Dallas only had to survive without McClain for a quarter of the season, but given that McClain is facing a 10-game ban for 2016, the Cowboys will need to more seriously consider how they’re going to make up for the loss of their middle linebacker.

We’ve examined how Dallas might go about finding a replacement for McClain, looking at players already on the Cowboys’ roster, free agents sitting on the open market, and veterans who could be on the roster bubble with their respective clubs. Let’s dive in…

Internal options:

The primary name being floated to replace McClain in the middle is third-year linebacker Anthony Hitchens, whom the Cowboys selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. Thing is, Hitchens was already a starter — he played on the inside in Anthony Hitchens (Vertical)McClain’s absence last year, and then moved to the outside, ultimately seeing action on about half of Dallas’ defensive snaps. So if Hitchens is being counted on to man the middle full-time, including in sub packages, the Cowboys would need to find a replacement at strong-side linebacker, meaning Kyle Wilber and/or Andrew Gachkar could see meaningful snaps after spending most of their respective careers as special teams players.

[RELATED: Updated Dallas Cowboys depth chart]

Gachkar, meanwhile, is another option to fill in at middle linebacker, and he has experience at the position. If chosen, Gachkar would likely be a two-down player, as Pro Football Focus’ grades have shown him to be effective against the run but a liability in pass coverage. The 27-year-old has never been a major defensive contributor — he was forced to step into the starting lineup when the Chargers suffered a variety of injuries at the linebacker position in 2014, but even then, he only played on 36.5% of San Diego’s defensive snaps.

The “wild card” in this race is second-year player Mark Nzeocha, according to Bryan Broaddus of the Cowboys’ website. A seventh-round pick in last year’s draft, Nzeocha only appeared in two games during his rookie season, managing 14 snaps, all of which came on special teams. Extremely athletic, Nzeocha was all over the field at Wyoming, playing safety and all three linebacker positions. His learning curve might be steep, but he clearly has all the physical tools to play the position.

A source tells PFR that the Cowboys are, for the most part, satisfied with the current state of their linebacker room, and are looking forward to have their young players compete for playing time while McClain is suspended. Dallas, says the source, hasn’t shown a lot of interest in scouring the free agent market for substitutes, so one of Hitchens, Gachkar, or Nzeocha might be the favorite to earn significant snaps this fall.

Free agents:

Donald Butler — After selecting Denzel Perryman in 2015 and Joshua Perry in this year’s draft, the Chargers parted ways with Butler, who had spent the past five seasons with the club. At age-27, Butler is the youngest free agent option on this list, but he’s coming off the worst season of his career, having posted just 40 tackles during the 2016 campaign. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune accused Butler of “losing interest” after receiving a massive extension prior to the 2014 season, so perhaps some other clubs have made that same assessment.Justin Durant (vertical)

Justin Durant — Durant started 12 games for the Falcons last year, but prior to his time in Atlanta he spent two seasons with the Cowboys, so at the very least he’d offer some familiarity with Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli‘s playbook. Versatility is another point in Durant’s favor, as he played mostly inside linebacker with Atlanta and Detroit, roamed the middle during his Jacksonville tenure, and moved between both positions with the Cowboys.

A.J. Hawk — The Bengals signed Hawk to a two-year deal before the 2015 campaign, but despite injuries limiting fellow linebacker Vontaze Burfict to just 10 games, Hawk rarely saw the field, playing on roughly a quarter of Cincinnati’s defensive snaps. Hawk recently told Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer that although he’s aware a club might not express interest until late in camp (or perhaps after the season begins), he’s staying in shape in the hopes of receiving a phone call.

David Hawthorne — Like Durant, Hawthorne offers positional versatility, having seen action at both inside and outside linebacker. In 2015, Hawthorne was shifted to the weak side in favor of rookie Stephone Anthony, but was then benched, declared inactive, and ultimately released after an unproductive season. Still, he’s got 83 career starts under his belt, and would presumably feel comfortable in the middle of the Dallas defense.

Keep reading for more external options that could be on the Cowboys’ radar…

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NFC Notes: Bucs, Peterson, Washington

We rounded up some AFC links earlier this morning, so let’s have a look at a few notes from the NFC.

  • Although the Glazer family has never meddled in the Buccaneers‘ personnel decisions to the same degree Jerry Jones has meddled with the Cowboys, Tampa Bay’s ownership has a tradition of assuming a powerful role in the team’s football operations at key moments. According to Ira Kaufman of The Tampa Tribune, the Glazers have been very active in deciding what the Bucs should do with their No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.
  • The Vikings would want at least a second-rounder and a late-round pick for Adrian Peterson, writes Ben Goessling of ESPN.com, who does not expect the team to lower its asking price just to move Peterson.
  • The Lions will likely wait until after the draft to address their left guard spot, and when they do, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com expects the team to add a veteran at the position.
  • John Mullin of CSNChicago.com writes that, with each signing the Bears make, the job security of those already on the roster becomes more uncertain. That is especially true on the defensive side of the ball, where Chicago has added two linebackers and is moving a 2014 defensive end back to outside linebacker. That means the three Game 16 starters of last season, Jonathan Bostic, Christian Jones, and Shea McClellin, are competing for one vacancy.
  • Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if the Rams will select a quarterback in this year’s draft, noting that if they do, they better strike early.
  • Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir of CSNWashington.com examine Washington‘s depth chart at quarterback. El-Bashir believes the team will draft a signal-caller, which will leave Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins fighting for one job.
  • John Keim of ESPN.com does not believe Washington will bring back Tyler Polumbus or Brandon Meriweather, and he would not be surprised if the team drafted Marcus Mariota if the former Oregon signal-caller is still available when Washington is on the clock.
  • Dan Graziano of ESPNNewYork.com writes that, in a perfect world, there would be a clear-cut option at pass-rusher for the Giants to select with their No. 9 overall pick. The problem is that most of the premium pass rushers, outside of perhaps Bud Dupree, look more like 3-4 outside linebackers than 4-3 defensive ends. As such, the team may end up with one of this year’s top offensive lineman, like Brandon Scherff or Ereck Flowers.

NFC Notes: Saints, Carr, Barr, Hyde

Writing about the Saints, OverTheCap.com’s Jason Fitzgerald says, “On one end of the spectrum they do a pretty poor job with planning for tomorrow due to restructures, void years, etc… but on the other end of the spectrum they also find these really good bargains on players.” Fitzgerald references Marques Colston, Zach Strief and Junior Galette chief among those bargains, deeming Galette the team’s best contract. On the flip side of the coin, however, is Curtis Lofton. Fitzgerald says the veteran linebacker’s guaranteed money is out of whack, and his deal is “littered” with prohibitive roster bonuses and a potentially costly voidable year.

Read on for several more NFC news and notes:

  • Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr hasn’t joined the Cowboys for training camp yet because he’s been with his cancer-stricken mother, who passed away on Wednesday.
  • Another player who has been sidelined for training camp is 49ers tight end Garrett Celek. He missed four games last season because of a hamstring injury, and is dealing with a back injury right now. Division III product Derek Carrier stands to benefit, writes SFGate.com’s Eric Branch, as Carrier and Celek are the contenders for the third tight end job behind Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman believes in Carrier’s ability: “He’s got a chance to be a productive player in this league. There’s no doubt. Derek’s got a nice feel for the passing game, he’s got good hands, and he can cover some ground now – he can really run. I don’t like to put timetables on people, but this a big year for him. He’s got a hell of an opportunity this year to really take a big step.”
  • Meanwhile, 49ers coaches are raving about the mental prowess of rookie runner Carlos Hyde, going so far as to call him savant-like, writes Matt Barrows in the Sacramento Bee.
  • Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer says there is a “strong” chance first-rounder Anthony Barr could start the season opener, reports Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune.
  • Bears rookie linebacker Christian Jones was one of the highest-profile undrafted free agents because he was key member of the national champion Florida State Seminoles, because he’s an impressive athlete who garnered second-round grades from draft evaluators and because he failed a drug test at the Combine. Not surprisingly, he’s made early waves in training camp for the linebacker-needy Bears, writes ESPN’s Michael C. Wright, who says it would be a surprise if Jones didn’t make the team: “The question now is whether Jones can maintain the momentum. Through the first seven practices, Jones appears to be one of the most athletic linebackers on the team, and probably the only true strongside linebacker at the position.”
  • ESPN’s Pat Yasinkas checks in on a handful of Buccaneers position battles, including the worrisome guard spots: “This one remains wide open. Jamon Meredith, Oniel Cousins, Patrick Omameh and Kadeem Edwards have been taking turns working with the first team and it doesn’t look like anyone has pulled ahead of the pack yet.”

NFC Rookie Minicamp Notes: Jones, Lucas, Starr, Moses, Norwood

Bears undrafted free agent Christian Jones worked at strong-side linebacker during the team’s rookie minicamp, according to Adam Hoge of 670 AM/CBSChicago.com. Jones, a physically gifted linebacker, played a prominent role for national champion Florida State, seeing snaps at all three linebacker spots as well as rushing the passer. He was projected as a third-round pick based on talent evaluation, but a failed drug test caused him to tumble out of the draft entirely. Thin at linebacker, the Bears pounced on Jones, who says he stands to benefit from focusing on one position. He also revealed what gave the Bears the edge when it came time to choose a team: Jones’ father played with Bears linebackers coach Reggie Herring at FSU.

In other news from various NFC minicamps. . .

    • The Lions see big upside in 6-9, 328-pound undrafted free agent offensive lineman Cornelius Lucas, writes Carlos Monarrrez in the Detroit Free Press. Lucas, a two-year starter at Kansas State, suffered a stress fracture in his left foot two weeks before the combine, but his rare size and eye-popping 88-inch wing span piqued the interest of the Lions, who “did show the most interest in him and began contacting him when the fourth round of the draft began as they attempted to land a steal in the priority free-agent market.” As ESPN’s Michael Rothstein points out, Lucas’ developmental value is noteworthy considering defensive line coach Jim Washburn was able to turn undrafted free agent LaAdrian Waddle into an eight-game starter.
    • Falcons seventh-rounder Tyler Starr is a longshot worth keeping an eye on, writes ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, who says Starr “has a quick first step and plays with some power. He even beat first-round pick Jake Matthews around the edge on Sunday while showing a burst not typical of a late-round pick.” Starr lacks ideal speed and power, but the Missouri Valley’s Defensive Player of the Year is a high-motor defender whose 6.64-second three-cone drill bested all pass rushers at the combine.
    • Cowboys assistant director of player personnel Will McClay spoke with Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota and said the team had a third/fourth-round grade on seventh-rounder Terrance Mitchell, a cornerback out of Oregon.
    • ESPN’s John Keim took in Redskins minicamp and gave brief thoughts on the team’s draft picks, including third-round tackle Morgan Moses, who could require some patience.

Bears Sign 11 Undrafted Free Agents

MAY 18: The Bears continue to add to their UDFA crop, signing former Louisville running back Senorise Perry (per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter) and cornerback Marcus Trice, formerly of North Texas (per Grice’s agent Josh Thomas (via Twitter). Both attended the Bears’ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis.

MAY 11: The Bears have signed nine undrafted free agents, according to a series of tweets from the team. The list of players headed to Chicago is as follows:

  • Cody Booth, T, Temple ($1K bonus, per Brad Biggs)
  • James Dunbar, G, TCU ($1.5K bonus)
  • Brandon Dunn, DT, Louisville ($8K bonus)
  • Ryan Groy, G, Wisconsin ($8K bonus)
  • Christian Jones, LB, Florida State ($7K bonus)
  • DeDe Lattimore, LB, South Florida ($1.5K bonus)
  • Jordan Lynch, RB, Northern Illinois ($3K bonus)
  • Tana Patrick, LB, Alabama ($750 bonus)
  • Lee Pegues, DT, East Carolina ($3.5K bonus)

Bears Notes: Lynch, Jones, Palmer, Britton

Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch didn’t get a chance to hear his name called at the NFL Draft last week, but he is committed to making an NFL roster with the Bears, writes Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com. Lynch lined up in the backfield as a running back during the team’s rookie minicamp this weekend, fitting in with the other running backs just fine.

“Jordan’s a real football player, there’s no doubt about it,” said head coach Marc Trestman. “In Day 1, he certainly didn’t look out of place.

“It wasn’t tough at all,” Lynch said of his new position. “I’m a football player. I love football, and I’ll do whatever it takes to stay in the NFL. I guess the toughest thing is some footwork drills playing running back and just trying to pick up on little things with special teams and running back.”

Here are some more notes from Bears’ rookie minicamp:

  • Trestman said the team is closely following the play of undrafted free agent linebacker Christian Jones our of Florida State, reports Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com (via Twitter). Trestman noted his athleticism as an asset for the team.
  • Although sixth-round pick David Fales is practicing at the team’s rookie minicamp, Trestman still believes Jordan Palmer will be Jay Cutler‘s backup in 2014, according to Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter).
  • Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer believes the starting five on the offensive line is solid, and that Eben Britton will be competing to be the sixth lineman, reports Jahns in a separate tweet“We feel good about our starting five,” said Kromer.