Danny Shelton

Contract Details: Lawson, Trufant, Shelton, Witten,

Kyler Fackrell (Giants), One year, $4.6MM, $3.5MM guaranteed, base salary 2020: $2.6MM, $2MM roster bonus, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.

Antonio Hamilton (Chiefs), One year, $1.047MM, $887.5k guaranteed, $137.5k signing bonus; salary 2020: $910k ($750k guaranteed), according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Shaq Lawson (Dolphins), Three years, $30MM, $21MM guaranteed, $4MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $6.4MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $7.9MM (fully guaranteed), 2022: $8.9MM; $2.5MM fully guaranteed roster bonus in 2020, $100k workout bonus in 2020-2021, potential $2MM in annual incentives, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

John Miller (Panthers), One year, $4MM, $2MM guaranteed, $2MM signing bonus; salary 2020: $1.79MM; $160k in per-game roster bonuses, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Danny Shelton (Lions), Two years, $8MM, $4MM guaranteed, $2.5MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $1.5MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $4MM, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.

Desmond Trufant (Lions), Two years, $20MM, $14MM guaranteed, $5MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $4.5MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $9.5MM ($4.5MM guaranteed for injury at signing); $500k in annual per-game roster bonuses, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Jihad Ward (Ravens), One year, $1.047MM, $637.5k guaranteed, $137.5k signing bonus; salary 2020: $910,000 ($500,000 guaranteed), according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Jaylen Watkins (Texans), Two years, $3MM, $300k guaranteed, $300k guaranteed; salaries 2020: $1.1MM, 2021: $1.4MM; 200k first-game roster bonus in 2020, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Jason Witten (Raiders), One year, $4MM, $3.5MM guaranteed; salary 2020: $3.5MM (fully guaranteed); $500k in per-game roster bonuses, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.

Lions To Sign Danny Shelton

The Lions have agreed to sign former Patriots defensive lineman Danny Shelton, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). It’ll be a two-year deal worth $8MM, agent Drew Rosenhaus tells Schefter.

Shelton hooked on with Rosenhaus in February, just weeks before entering unrestricted free agency. Last year, he sat on the market for a few months before re-signing with the Patriots on a one-year deal. This time around, he’s found his deal much sooner.

A better run defender than pass rusher, the 6’2″, 345-pound Shelton took on a key role for the Pats last year. He played in every regular season game and started in 14 of those contests. Overall he played around 49 percent of the defensive snaps for one of the league’s best defenses. With the Lions, he figures to serve as a key rotational piece on the interior.

The Washington product was drafted 12th overall by the Browns back in 2015. He became an instant starter in Cleveland but never quite lived up to his draft status, and was shipped to New England along with a fifth-rounder in exchange for a third-round pick before the 2018 season.

He had three sacks coming up the middle last year, and this continues a trend of Detroit and Matt Patricia picking up former Pats players after they also signed linebacker Jamie Collins earlier this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Jones, Patriots, Browns, Tags

While the Chiefs are not planning to let Chris Jones get away, the dynamic interior pass rusher staying in Kansas City long-term is another matter. The Chiefs have a $20MM defensive lineman already, in Frank Clark, and will likely have to give Patrick Mahomes a deal in the $40MM-AAV neighborhood. Nevertheless, the Chiefs have the UFA-to-be entrenched as their top priority going into March.

Chris is obviously a great player, and he’s a priority,” GM Brett Veach said via KCChiefs.com’s B.J. Kissel on his In the Trenches podcast (h/t Chiefs Wire). “We have a lot of priorities. Look, we know how hard it is to win a Super Bowl. It hadn’t been done in 50 years and we won it with the group we had last year. So I think that as we attack this offseason, first up its free agency before the draft, our goal and mindset is to do whatever we can to retain as many players as we can. And Chris is at the top of that list because of the talent he is.”

It will likely take near-Aaron Donald-level money ($22.5MM per year) to lock down Jones long-term, but the franchise tag is only estimated to cost $16.3MM. Despite the Chiefs currently holding $13.7MM in cap space, that is likely where this situation is headed for the time being. Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Karl Dorrell‘s decision to leave the Dolphins to become Colorado’s head coach may impact other staffs. The Browns recently hired T.C. McCartney as an assistant, but Dorrell has the young coach on his radar, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. The Broncos’ 2019 quarterbacks coach, McCartney is the son of late Colorado quarterback Sal Aunese and grandson of longtime Buffaloes coach Bill McCartney. T.C. McCartney has worked on the Buffs’ staff previously. Signs point to the Browns having a job opening soon.
  • Three Patriots are changing agents. Both defensive tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback J.C. Jackson will now be Drew Rosenhaus clients, with Mike Reiss of ESPN.com adding that Pats right tackle Marcus Cannon will be represented by Joby Branion and Eugene Lee. Cannon recently said there is nothing to retirement rumors, and this move points to the 31-year-old blocker coming back for a 10th season. Shelton is an unrestricted free agent, while Jackson is due for restricted free agency in 2021.
  • With the CBA coming down to the wire before the 2020 league year, teams may be able use both their franchise and transition tags this offseason. There will be many players mentioned in tag rumors this week. The tight end market could lose a key member, with Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com writing it makes sense for the Chargers to tag Hunter Henry at the near-$11MM price. That move would help a Tom Brady pursuit. Additionally, Rosenthal sees Ryan Tannehill‘s franchise tag making a Derrick Henry transition tag sensible for the Titans. The running back transition tag is projected to come in at less than $9MM. If a new CBA is agreed to, however, teams can only use either their franchise or transition tags. That would complicate matters for the Titans.

AFC East Rumors: Jets, Manning, Dolphins

The Jets reportedly want to hire Peyton Manning as their next GM, but it doesn’t sound like the retired quarterback is interested in the job. The latest word on that front comes from Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, who hears from a source close to Manning that the notion of him becoming the Jets’ GM is “unrealistic” and being an NFL GM is “not a job he seems to want.”

Even though the 43-year-old doesn’t have any official front office experience, this isn’t the first time that he has been connected to a top job. In 2017, it was said that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam had interest in hiring Manning to a prominent executive role. He’s also indicated in the past that he would be open to such opportunities.

I like to listen in on any number of potential chapter two opportunities in my life,” Manning said in July of 2018. “I talked to some TV people and teams on the football side of it. I like listening, and it seems like people are reporting when I’m doing it.

Meanwhile, there’s conflicting word on whether the Jets have Manning on their radar for the GM job in the first place. Ultimately, it seems unlikely that Manning will be tapped to replace Mike Maccagnan and be the man to remove the interim GM tag from Adam Gase‘s title.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Gase says that he only wants to focus on being the Jets‘ head coach, but he fired Jets scout Bill Dekraker on Tuesday and told those around him that he wants to streamline the scouting department, Manish Mehta of the Daily News (on Twitter) hears.
  • The cap hits on cornerback Xavien Howard’s new six-year, $76.5MM deal are as follows (via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald): $10.3MM this season, $13.3MM, $13.5MM, $14.4MM, $13.4MM, and $12.2MM. With his new deal, Howard is the only Dolphin under contract past 2022. But, even with that deal, the Dolphins are still in line to have more than $105MM in cap space next offseason.
  • Danny Shelton‘s deal with the Patriots is for one-year with a signing bonus of $75K, a base salary of $805K and bonuses/incentives worth up to $150K (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). All in all, Shelton will carry a modest cap charge of just over $1MM.

Patriots Re-Sign Danny Shelton

The Patriots have re-signed defensive tackle Danny Shelton, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Terms of the deal are not yet known. 

Shelton hit the open market for the first time this offseason after the Pats declined his fifth-year option. He played well in a part-time capacity last season, grading as Pro Football Focus’ No. 27 overall interior defender. But it’s worth noting that Shelton was also a healthy scratch for multiple Pats games.

A better run defender than pass rusher, the 6’2″, 345-pound Shelton played on roughly a third of New England’s defensive snaps a year ago, the lowest playing time percentage of his career. In 13 games, Shelton 21 tackles (one for loss) and one quarterback hit.

The Patriots originally acquired Shelton and a fifth-round pick from the Browns in exchange for a third-round selection in March 2018. This offseason, his market was pretty quiet outside of a meeting with the Bengals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Danny Shelton Met With Bengals

Former first-round pick Danny Shelton met with the Bengals recently, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter).

Shelton is a first-time free agent, hitting the market after the Patriots in 2018 declined to pick up his fifth-year option. He played well in a part-time capacity this past season, grading as Pro Football Focus’ No. 27 overall interior defender. But Shelton was also a healthy scratch for multiple Pats games, clouding his appeal on the market.

A better run defender than pass rusher, the 6’2″, 345-pound Shelton played on roughly a third of New England’s defensive snaps a year ago, the lowest playing time percentage of his career. In 13 games, Shelton 21 tackles (one for loss) and one quarterback hit. The Patriots originally acquired Shelton and a fifth-round pick from the Browns in exchange for a third-round selection in March 2018.

Cincinnati’s entire defense was a mess last season, and the Bengals couldn’t stop anyone on the ground, ranking 30th in Football Outsiders‘ adjusted line yards. Shelton could potentially help in that capacity, although his playing time would likely come at the expense of promising fourth-year nose tackle Andrew Billings.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Notes: Kraft, Flowers, Tate

Patriots owner Robert Kraft will likely not face many legal repercussions from his prostitution charges, according to a Florida criminal defense attorney (via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe). Kraft will probably be required to pay a several hundred dollar fine and attend counseling of some sort, at which point the charges may be dropped.

But the consequences from an NFL standpoint are likely to be much more severe. Volin believes commissioner Roger Goodell should “come down hard on Kraft” and impose at least a six-game suspension and a hefty fine (the maximum fine is $500K). Kraft is obviously one of the most prominent and powerful owners in the league, but he may be relieved of some of his duties (he is a part of five major ownership committees). He was supposed to guide the league through a potential 2021 lockout and lead negotiations with television networks when those contracts expire in 2022, but that is all in question now.

Volin still believes Kraft will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but his induction will now be delayed, and the 77-year-old may not be around to enjoy his enshrinement when it does happen (Volin says Kraft was likely to get the HOF nod in a year or two). And, while Kraft will almost certainly not be forced to sell the club or hand it off to his son, Jonathan, this incident will be a permanent blot on his reputation.

Now let’s take a quick look at a few on-field notes from Foxborough:

  • Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers will be a hot commodity if he hits the open market, but Jim McBride of the Boston Globe says locking him up to a long-term deal is high on New England’s list of priorities. The Pats are unlikely to use the franchise tag on Flowers, and they are unlikely to keep him if it takes an Olivier Vernon-esque deal to do so (five years, $85MM). However, McBride believes Flowers will ultimately return to New England on a multi-year contract, even if he tests the free agent market first.
  • In the same piece linked above, McBride looks at the other Patriots eligible for free agency and their chances of returning to the club. For instance, he believes specialists Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen will certainly be back, while Eric Rowe and Danny Shelton are more likely to find homes elsewhere.
  • Assuming the Patriots don’t trade out of the first round, Doug Kyed of NESN.com sees tight ends Noah Fant (Iowa) and Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama) and DB Taylor Rapp (Washington) as potential fits.
  • Golden Tate would be a good fit in the Patriots’ offense, but Kyed does not believe the Pats will be willing to meet Tate’s asking price.
  • Brothers Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty have announced that they will continue their careers in 2019 after some retirement speculation prior to the Super Bowl. Devin is still under contract with the Patriots, but Jason is eligible for free agency.

Patriots Decline Danny Shelton’s Option

The Patriots aren’t planning to pick up the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Danny Shelton, a source tells Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Many expected the Pats to tack the additional year on to Shelton’s rookie deal, so this comes as a bit of a surprise. 

Shelton is now on course to hit the open market after the 2018 season. As shown on PFR’s Fifth-Year Option Tracker, Shelton would have cost the Patriots $7.154MM in 2019 had they exercised the option and kept him on the roster through next year.

The Patriots acquired Shelton from the Browns (along with a 2018 fifth-round pick) in exchange for a 2019 third-round choice. In his three seasons with the Browns, Shelton started in 45 of his 46 appearances and turned in some solid performances as a part of a not-so-solid Browns front seven. Even in a down 2017, he still graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 35 ranked interior defender out of 122 qualified players.

As shown on Roster Resource, the Patriots also have Lawrence Guy and Malcom Brown in the middle, but Shelton should have an opportunity to compete for a first-string job in camp. Shelton has demonstrated the ability to play in multiple schemes and his versatility should make him a solid replacement for Alan Branch in the rotation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Foles, Giants, Breeland

The Eagles and reigning Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles just agreed to a reworked contract that gives Foles a $2MM raise for 2018, plus a whole host of incentives. The deal also includes a mutual option for 2019, though if Foles were to decline the option, he would have to give back the $2MM he just received.

Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com examines why Philadelphia, which is tight against the cap this year and will be again in 2019, made the move. The reworked deal probably had little to nothing to do with the Eagles’ wanting to reward Foles for his postseason heroics, so Shorr-Parks speculates that Foles and his camp could have put some pressure on the team, and he also suggests the new contract may come with a lower cap hit.

The chances that the Eagles exercise the 2019 option are very slim, as Foles would be owed a $20MM salary under that scenario. But, if the two sides want to continue their relationship beyond 2018, this gesture will certainly buy the Eagles some goodwill when it comes time to negotiate again. It also guarantees that Philadelphia, which already had the best QB insurance policy in the game, will keep that policy perfectly content this season, and even if Carson Wentz cannot stay healthy, the team has given itself a chance to deploy a capable signal-caller for at least the next two years.

Now let’s take a quick swing around a few other east division clubs:

  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com says the Giants could look to trade offensive tackle Ereck Flowers during the draft, though that will probably be a difficult trick to pull off. Raanan also says Big Blue has done a lot of pre-draft work on punters this year, and he believes the team could bring in a UDFA punter to compete with Riley Dixon. Dixon was recently acquired from Denver for a conditional seventh-round pick, so if he does not make the club, the Giants will likely not need to surrender the pick.
  • Former Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland was set to sign a three-year, $24MM pact with the Panthers last month, but Carolina scuttled the deal due to a “non-football incident” in which Breeland cut his foot. The foot became infected, and at the time, it was reported that Breeland was a few months away from being able to pass a physical. He will surely garner some interest this summer once he is healed, but JP Finlay of NBCSports.com says Washington is not expected to bring Breeland back into the fold. Indeed, Breeland himself indicated on Instagram that the Redskins never had interest in retaining his services.
  • The Patriots are in the unique position of having three fifth-year options to either exercise or decline before May 3, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the team will almost certainly exercise those options on defensive tackles Danny Shelton and Malcom Brown (at a little over $7MM apiece). However, the team is unsurprisingly not expected to exercise the $9.387MM option for receiver Phillip Dorsett.
  • The Cowboys are expected to exercise Byron Jones‘ fifth-year option.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Pats, Shelton

The Jets, armed with $90MM of salary cap space, are of course prepared to make a major push for this year’s Holy Grail of free agents, Kirk Cousins. But Gang Green has plenty of needs to fill outside of quarterback, and GM Mike Maccagnan is making no bones about his team’s anticipated activity level when free agency opens this week. Maccagnan said at the scouting combine, “Obviously we’ll be very active on the first day [of free agency] in terms of the higher profile guys. Everybody is well aware we have quite a bit of cap space to work with. There are quite a few players we’re interested in” (via Brian Costello of the New York Post).

Per Costello, the Jets are poised to re-sign Josh McCown if they fall short in their pursuit of Cousins. The team also needs upgrades at running back, center, and cornerback. Wide receiver and inside linebacker could also be positions that New York targets.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the AFC East:

  • Dion Lewis‘ abilities as a runner and receiver allowed the Patriots to run all sorts of formations in 2017, but it is widely believed that he will not be back in New England in 2018. Fellow free agent Jerick McKinnon, who has thrived in a similar role in Minnesota, could be a logical replacement, per Phil Perry of NBCSports.com. However, even though McKinnon will not break the bank, Perry thinks it is more likely that the Pats re-sign Rex Burkhead and address their RB needs in the draft.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets that the newly-acquired Danny Shelton will count for $2.03MM against the Patriots‘ cap in 2018 (which matches his base salary). As we learned yesterday, New England will have to decide whether to exercise Shelton’s fifth-year option, which has a projected value of roughly $7MM, by early May. The Browns, meanwhile, will be saddled with about $1.7MM in dead money as a result of the trade, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the 2018 fifth-round pick the Patriots received in the Shelton swap is expected to be Cleveland’s lower pick in the round, No. 159 overall. Reiss adds that New England, which shipped a 2019 third-rounder to the Browns, could recoup a third-round pick in next year’s draft through the compensatory system.
  • In the same piece linked above, Reiss says the Patriots will not stray from their usual financial discipline in their efforts to re-sign Danny Amendola, but given Amendola’s impressive 2017 campaign, he says other teams may view him as a pure No. 3 wideout instead of the No. 3/4 option with a limited workload that he has been with the Pats (and those teams could offer to pay him accordingly). As such, Amendola — who has taken pay cuts to remain with New England in the past — could have a harder-than-expected decision to make this month.
  • Reiss also sees Titans LB Avery Williamson as a “sleeper” target for the Patriots when free agency opens in a couple of days. Williamson is in his prime and gives New England the type of off-the-line LB it is looking for.
  • We learned earlier today that the Dolphins continue to contemplate moving on from Ndamukong Suh, though it makes more sense for the team to either retain him — perhaps with a restructured contract — or trade him than it does to simply cut him.