D.J. Fluker

AFC Notes: Simmons, Newton, Ravens

Broncos safety Justin Simmons has still not signed his franchise tender, and like most players seeking new contracts, Simmons’ negotiations have been impacted in a big way by the pandemic. As a result, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post believes Simmons is more likely to play out the 2020 campaign on his $12.7MM tender than land a multi-year pact. The one caveat to that would be if Simmons is willing to give Denver a hometown discount, but there have been no real indications that he is willing to do so.

However, O’Halloran does not expect the process to be an ugly one, and he fully believes Simmons will sign his tender and report to camp if there is no new deal in place by the July 15 deadline.

Let’s take a quick trip around the AFC:

  • Much has been made of the minimal guarantee and base salary that 2015 MVP Cam Newton stands to earn under his new one-year pact with the Patriots. 49ers CB Richard Sherman took to Twitter to express his outrage over the deal, calling it “disgusting” that a player like Newton would have to settle for such chump change (and ignoring the myriad injury concerns that led to the contract). But Newton himself, in his first public comments about the financial details (via Instagram), said simply “[t]his is not about money for me. It’s about respect.” A productive season in Foxborough would lead to Newton’s market rebounding in a big way in 2021, though the Pats may be inclined to use the franchise tag on him if that happens.
  • The Ravens lost future Hall-of-Fame RG Marshal Yanda to retirement this offseason, and though the club has a number of young players who could replace him, the pandemic will likely give veterans a leg up over less experienced talents. As such, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic expects D.J. Fluker to win the starting right guard gig, while 2019 left guard Bradley Bozeman is the clear favorite to reprise his role in 2020.
  • In the same piece linked above, Zrebiec notes that the Ravens, who recently cut veteran LB Jake Ryan, did so because both sides realized that Ryan — who has only played in two games since 2017 — still wasn’t healthy and wouldn’t have enough time to get healthy and learn the team’s defense.
  • In case you missed it, Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue may be prepared to sit out the entire 2020 season if he does not get traded.

Ravens Agree To Terms With OL D.J. Fluker

It didn’t take long for D.J. Fluker to find a new home. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the veteran offensive lineman has signed with the Ravens. The deal is pending a physical.

Fluker was released by the Seahawks on Sunday after spending two seasons with the organization. Last offseason, the lineman signed a two-year, $9MM extension with Seattle, and he proceeded to start 14 games during the 2019 campaign (his highest total since 2016).

The 2013 first-round pick out of Alabama spent the first four seasons of his career with the Chargers before spending the 2017 campaign with the Giants. In total, the 29-year-old has appeared in 92 career games, including 88 starts.

The Ravens are naturally putting an emphasis on protecting Lamar Jackson, with the organization selecting a pair of rookies in the 2020 Draft (third-round lineman Tyre Phillips and fourth-round guard Ben Bredeson). The team is eyeing several holes on their offensive line, as Marshal Yanda retired and Matt Skura continues to recover from a knee injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Release D.J. Fluker

The Seahawks are making a big change on their offensive line. Seattle released guard D.J. Fluker Sunday, the lineman announced himself on Twitter.

Fluker has been with the Seahawks the past two years, starting all 14 games that he appeared in last season. Fluker had been set to enter the final season of the two-year, $6MM pact he signed with the Seahawks last offseason. As Brady Henderson of ESPN.com pointed out in a tweet, the Seahawks’ recent drafting of guard Damien Lewis out of LSU in the third-round might’ve been the nail in the coffin for Fluker.

Fluker entered the league as the 11th overall pick of the Chargers back in 2013. He started at least 12 games in all four years with San Diego, but never quite lived up to his draft status. A tackle in college and his first couple of pro seasons, Fluker moved to guard in 2015 and has stayed there ever since.

After a pit stop with the Giants in 2017, he landed in Seattle. The Seahawks have Mike Iupati at left guard, and Lewis can now be considered the likely favorite to start on the right side if everything goes according to plan. Still only 29, Fluker should resurface somewhere before too long.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Hill, Raiders, 49ers, Seahawks

It is possible the Chiefs will have neither of their top two wideouts going into their Week 6 home game against the Texans. Sammy Watkins is listed as doubtful to suit up, and Andy Reid called Tyreek Hill a game-time decision. Hill suffered an unusual clavicle injury early in Week 1 and has not played since. The veteran wideout, whose status for the Chiefs’ early-season games was in doubt for months because of more off-field trouble, returned to practice last week. Hill not playing would give the Chiefs’ auxiliary trio of Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle — each of whom having posted a 100-yard game this season — an interesting opportunity to work in bigger roles. Hill’s return not coming in Week 6 would almost certainly mean a Week 7 re-emergence.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • The NFC’s final unbeaten team now will start two backup tackles, with 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery this week. Kyle Shanahan said he would be open to a trade but does not view one as making sense presently. “Things got to be available,” Shanahan said, via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “You got to be able to make smart decisions. If there were a smart decision out there, we’d definitely look into it. It doesn’t seem like many are available right now.” The obvious one would be a Trent Williams deal, but it does not sound like the 49ers are willing to meet the Redskins’ asking price. Shanahan coached Williams as Washington’s OC previously. Joe Staley is expected back in a few weeks.
  • A natural Jay Gruden landing spot would be with the Raiders, considering older brother Jon is in his second season as their coach. While expressing disappointment in the Redskins’ decision to fire his brother, Jon Gruden did not want to speculate on adding Jay to his staff, per NBC Sports Bay Area’s Scott Bair. Jay Gruden worked on his brother’s Buccaneers staffs from 2002-08, doing so as an offensive assistant. Jay was an Arena League quarterback for part of that span. The Raiders bringing Jay Gruden in would create an interesting “Cincinnati West” makeup, with former Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther working as the Raiders’ DC. Guenther and Jay Gruden worked under Marvin Lewis together. Jay Gruden said he does not intend to coach again in 2019 but will pursue other HC jobs in advance of the 2020 season.
  • Daryl Worley has started all five Raiders games this season, doing so as an outside cornerback. But with Nevin Lawson back on the roster after a suspension, and fourth-round rookie Isaiah Johnson set to resume practicing this week, the Raiders envision Worley transitioning into a hybrid role, Bair notes. Lamarcus Joyner already operates in that capacity in Oakland, but Jon Gruden sees Worley playing both safety and nickel in what the coach seems to view as a malleable secondary. Johnson, who is on IR, is likely to start practicing next week, Bair adds.
  • The Seahawks will likely be without two offensive line starters Sunday. Left tackle Duane Brown and right guard D.J. Fluker are doubtful to face the Browns. Seattle placed backup Ethan Pocic on IR on Friday, leaving the unit thin on its Cleveland trip. George Fant is expected to start at left tackle, and the Seahawks have interior linemen Joey Hunt and Jordan Roos on their roster as possible Fluker replacements. Hunt has three career starts, Roos zero.

Contract Details: Williams, Webb, Verrett

Here are the latest particulars in recently agreed-upon contracts, courtesy of the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson (unless otherwise noted).

Seahawks To Re-Sign D.J. Fluker

The Seahawks are finalizing a new two-year deal for guard and Patrice O’Neal lookalike D.J. Fluker (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of NFL.com). The pact is worth up to $9MM, tweets Herbie Teope of NFL.com. The Seahawks also signed guard Mike Iupati on Thursday morning, but there’s apparently room for both former first-round picks in Seattle.

The Seahawks just lost last year’s 15-game starter at left guard, J.R. Sweezy, to the Cardinals, but things are shaping up nicely on the interior line between Iupati’s arrival and Fluker’s new contract.

Fluker joined the Seahawks last offseason after having spent the 2017 campaign with the Giants. He proceeded to start nine of his 10 games with Seattle, as a hamstring injury forced him to sit out a handful of contests. Pro Football Focus wasn’t particularly fond of his performance in 2018, ranking him 68th among 77 eligible offensive guards.

However, he was an integral member of the club’s top-rated rushing attack in 2018, and Seattle has been working hard to retain him. Although there were no other teams publicly connected to him as of yet, he would surely have attracted more suitors in the coming days.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Discussing Deal With OL D.J. Fluker

After losing guard J.R. Sweezy to the Cardinals, the Seahawks are focused on keeping one of their other free agent linemen. Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes that the front office “remains hard at work” at retaining D.J. Fluker.

A league source told Condotta that the Seahawks and Fluker’s camp were “still talking” as the two sides worked towards a resolution. This is the first reported interest in Fluker, although he’ll likely garner more suitors as the free agent class dries up.

The 28-year-old offensive lineman joined the Seahawks last offseason after having spent the 2017 campaign with the Giants. The former first-rounder proceeded to start nine of his 10 games with Seattle, as a hamstring injury forced him to sit out a handful of games. Pro Football Focus wasn’t particularly fond of his performance in 2018, ranking him 68th among 77 eligible offensive guards.

Earlier today, Sweezy left Seattle to ink a two-year deal with the Cardinals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: 2019 NFL Draft, Stidham, Lock, Redskins, Phillips, Seahawks, Fluker, Sweezy

The NFL combine is right around the corner, and the draft isn’t too far away. With that in mind, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report spoke to some league talent evaluators, and had a few interesting nuggets on the quarterbacks in this year’s class. A “lead AFC personnel man” told Miller that Missouri quarterback Drew Lock “really helped himself” during this week’s Senior Bowl practices, and could be the top quarterback selected this April.

The same personnel guy told Miller that Duke quarterback Daniel Jones helped himself as well, and that his mechanics looked good in practice. Miller writes that Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham also boosted his stock this week, and that three scouts told him Stidham could even climb into the end of the first round. Stidham has been projected as a Day 2 guy in most mock drafts, so that would be a pretty significant leap for him.

Here’s more from around the league this Friday night:

  • The Redskins made a coaching move this evening, and it could end up impacting the Rams. Washington hired Brian Angelichio to be their tight ends coach, the team announced in a tweet, and he’ll be replacing Wes Phillips on Jay Gruden’s staff. Phillips is the son of NFL-lifer and current Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets that Phillips is a “potential fit” in Los Angeles. Rapsheet notes that the Rams will be in need of a quarterbacks coach when Zac Taylor officially departs to become the Bengals’ new head coach, and notes that Phillips will be “one to watch.” Wade has become one of the funniest and most personable coordinators in the league the past couple of years, and a Phillips family reunion would be a lot of fun.
  • The Seahawks’ offensive line was a big part of their success this year, as they helped pave the way for their first productive ground game in years. Now Seattle will have to make some decisions on whether they want to keep last year’s line intact. Starting guards D.J. Fluker and J.R Sweezy are both scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this spring, and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes that the team “would like to keep both and will work to get that done.” Both players received below average grades from Pro Football Focus, but Seattle was apparently happy enough with their play.
  • In case you missed it, an update on the latest assistant coaching moves.

West Notes: Hawks, 49ers, Broncos, Chiefs

Before he signed with a one-year, $8MM deal with the Vikings in March, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson received a $4-5MM offer to stay with the Seahawks, as he explained to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (Twitter link). “The contract they offered me was terrible. It wasn’t what they told me when I left after the exit meetings,” Richardson said. “When my agent told me the offer, I told him, ‘They can keep that.’” Richardson has excelled for Minnesota this season: Pro Football Focus currently grades him as the league’s No. 36 interior defender, while Richardson is tied for sixth among defensive tackles with 14 quarterback hits. Given that he only inked a one-year pact, Richardson will be able to hit the free agent market again in 2019 at the age of 28.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • In her first comments to the media after Reuben Foster was arrested on domestic violence charges in Tampa last month, Foster’s ex-girlfriend Elissa Ennis indicated the 49ers attempted to intervene during Foster’s arrest. It’s unclear whether Ennis was referring to San Francisco staffers or other players, but the club has issued a statement nonetheless. “The 49ers fully cooperated with authorities, assisted in locating Mr. Foster and in no way impeded their investigation,” said the team. San Francisco, of course, immediately waived Foster following the arrest, but he was claimed by the Redskins. Tampa Police are still reviewing the case against Foster, but an arraignment is tentatively scheduled for January 3, tweets Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • The Broncos lost one of their most important offensive players in Emmanuel Sanders on Wednesday, but they did get a little lucky in acquiring fellow receiver Andre Holmes off waivers from the Bills, as Mike Klis of 9News explains (Twitter link). Sanders went down with a torn Achilles at 12:06 MT, and Denver’s doctors had diagnosed him 14 minutes later. When practice ended at 1:20, Broncos offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave relayed to the club’s personnel department that he had coached Holmes while the two were in Oakland. Five minutes before the waiver deadline, the Broncos put in a claim on Holmes.
  • Austin Reiter‘s two-year extension with the Chiefs has a maximum value of $5.5MM, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Reiter, a reserve offensive lineman, will receive a $1MM signing bonus that, as Joel Corry of CBSSports.com notes (via Twitter) will prorate over three seasons given that Reiter signed his new deal before the close of the 2018 campaign. Reiter, 27, was projected to become a restricted free agent next spring, but he’ll now get a little more financial security instead of a non-guaranteed RFA tag. He started four games at center for Kansas City earlier this year while Mitch Morse was injured.
  • Seahawks guard D.J. Fluker is expected to miss several weeks with a hamstring strain, head coach Pete Carroll told reporters, including Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Fluker, who inked a one-year, $1.5MM deal with Seattle this year, hasn’t played very well during his first season in the Pacific Northwest, as PFF grades him as a bottom-15 guard among 79 qualifiers. Former undrafted free agent Jordan Simmons will take over at right guard for the time being.

Seahawks Notes: Thomas, Fluker, Fant, Hill

Earl Thomas remains at an impasse with the Seahawks, who’ve stripped the defense — at least, their first and third levels of it — almost completely bare of Thomas’ Super Bowl teammates this offseason. But future franchise tags give the Seahawks the leverage on Thomas in this holdout, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com writes. The 29-year-old safety skipping regular-season weeks would obviously cost him financially, and he must report by the midseason point to avoid his contract tolling over to 2019. Thomas’ four-year, $40MM deal expires after this season. Pete Carroll expects Thomas to be at camp, but Brooks writes the Seahawks probably don’t want to pay him $12MM per year (or north, if the three-time All-Pro is intent on surpassing Eric Berry‘s $13MM-AAV deal that doubles as the safety high-water mark) in what’s been an oddly soft safety market.

If the Seahawks do decide to get serious about a trade, Brooks notes that, beyond the Cowboys, the Chargers, 49ers, Buccaneers and Bengals are the most logical destinations. The Bolts drafted Derwin James and have Jahleel Addae on the books for three more seasons, but Brooks cites the need for a deep centerfielder-type safety nonetheless. And Thomas has a history with Los Angeles DC Gus Bradley. He has a background with San Francisco DC Robert Saleh as well. The Bengals hosted Eric Reid on a visit that went poorly, but they were only in the market for a backup safety at that time. Tampa Bay spent plenty to add to its defensive front this offseason and added three DBs in the draft’s middle rounds. The Bucs boast Chris Conte and second-year man Justin Evans as their top safeties.

Here’s the latest out of Seattle:

  • A Chargers trade for Thomas wouldn’t add up with the franchise’s usual M.O., Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune notes. Tom Telesco and football ops president John Spanos aren’t big on parting with draft capital, with Krasovic adding that extensions for Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon — along with Los Angeles’ approximate $9MM cap-space total — would also impede a move like this.
  • Should the Seahawks deal Thomas, Delano Hill would be the favorite to succeed him alongside Bradley McDougald, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. McDougald would move to free safety, with Hill — a 2017 third-rounder — making his starting-lineup debut as Seattle’s strong safety. Hill ran with the starters in Thomas’ stead during minicamp.
  • The right side of Seattle’s offensive line figures to be manned by tackle Germain Ifedi and guard D.J. Fluker, per Condotta, who adds Fluker could be an option at tackle if Ifedi struggles. Fluker, though, has not played much tackle since the Chargers shuttled him to guard prior to the 2015 season. However, former left tackle starter George Fant will be thrust into the right tackle competition in training camp, Condotta writes. Fant is expected to be healthy after suffering a torn ACL last summer and would profile as the Seahawks’ swing tackle if Ifedi keeps the top right-edge job.
  • Amara Darboh (eight receptions, 71 yards in 2017) received essentially a redshirt year as a rookie, but Condotta notes the Seahawks are “counting on” the third-round pick to see a significant playing-time uptick this season. Seattle has Tyler Lockett and recently added UFAs Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall. However, the latter is coming off a poor season and spent time recovering from multiple injuries this offseason. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Darboh’s role could hinge on how Marshall fares in camp. Seattle did not guarantee Marshall much, so it’s not certain the 34-year-old target makes the roster.