Darian Stewart

Colts Meet With Darian Stewart

Free agent safety Darian Stewart met with the Colts this week, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). This comes on the heels of a workout for Johnathan Cyprien, so it appears the Colts are in the market for help in the secondary. 

Third-year safety Malik Hooker is working his way back from ACL and MCL tears while fellow safety Clayton Geathers is still rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee. At minimum, Stewart could give the Colts some practice field depth. At maximum, the former Pro Bowler could be a tremendous value addition.

The Broncos released Stewart in March in order to save roughly $3.6MM against the cap. Prior to that, the veteran started in nearly all of his 58 games for the Broncos and recorded a forced fumble and a sack in the team’s Super Bowl 50 victory.

Stewart saw some time at cornerback and free safety in ’17, but he played mostly at strong safety last year. He graded out as just the No. 77 ranked safety in the NFL in 2018, according to Pro Football Focus. His 59.6 overall score was a massive step back from his first two seasons in Denver, which included a Pro Bowl nod in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Release Darian Stewart

The Broncos released defensive back Darian Stewart, according to an announcement from Stewart himself. On Wednesday, the veteran took to Instagram to bid farewell to his fans in Denver. 

Broncos country thank you all for the love you showed me and my family these past four years,” Stewart wrote. “But, it’s time for me to move on and I’m looking forward to the next chapter. I still got a whole lotta 🏈 left in me so I’ll see y’all real soon.”

Stewart was due roughly $5MM for 2019. By releasing him, the Broncos will save roughly $3.57MM against the cap with $2.8MM in dead money left over.

The Broncos signed Stewart to a two-year deal worth $4.25MM in 2015 and he quickly proved his worth. Stewart started in nearly all of his 58 games for the Broncos and recorded both a forced fumble and a sack in the team’s Super Bowl 50 victory.

Stewart saw some time at cornerback and free safety in ’17, but he played mostly at strong safety last year. This figures to be a crowded safety market, which is a bit of a double-edged sword for Stewart. Plenty of teams are in need of safeties, but Stewart will be a lower priority than Earl ThomasAdrian AmosLamarcus JoynerTyrann MathieuHa Ha Clinton-Dix, and others.

Stewart graded out as just the No. 77 ranked safety in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus. His 59.6 overall score was a massive step back from his first two seasons in Denver, which included a Pro Bowl-worthy performance in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Green, Broncos, Raiders

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is progressing in his recovery from the hamstring injury he suffered Nov. 20, but he’ll miss Sunday’s game against the Eagles, according to Bob Holzman of ESPN. Although the 3-7-1 Bengals are all but out of playoff contention, the five-time Pro Bowler has no plans to shut himself down for the season. “I want to get back,” he told Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer“No matter what type of season we have, I’m not the type of guy to cash it in. So, whenever it’s ready, I’ll be ready to go. But, I’m not going to rush it because I’m not going to have this be a continuing issue.”

More from the AFC:

  • Safety Darian Stewart‘s four-year, $28MM extension with the Broncos includes $13MM in fully guaranteed money, per Mike Klis of 9NEWS. He has already received $3.5MM of a $7MM signing bonus, the other half of which he’ll collect March 15. Stewart’s $6MM base salary for 2017 is fully guaranteed, while his $4.5MM salary for 2018 is guaranteed for injury only and will convert to a full guarantee on the fifth day of the 2018 league year.
  • Raiders coach Jack Del Rio still expects defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. to return this year, Scott Bair of CSNCalifornia.com tweets. Del Rio is uncertain when Edwards would come back, however. The second-year man went on injured reserve with a hip ailment prior to Week 1 and still hasn’t played this season. If the Raiders designate Edwards to return from IR, they’ll have a three-week window to activate him.
  • The latest on the Jets, including a Christian Hackenberg update.

Broncos Sign Darian Stewart To Extension

The Broncos have seen enough from Darian Stewart in his two years with the team to know they want him around long-term, agreeing to terms with the safety on a four-year extension, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

It’s a four-year deal worth approximately $28MM for Stewart, Mike Klis of 9News reports. The deal is worth up to $30MM, with $17.5MM guaranteed, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets.

This will make Stewart a top-12 safety in terms of AAV and, interestingly, the highest-paid safety on the team. T.J. Ward will make $5.75MM next season as part of a four-year deal he signed in 2014. But the Pro Bowl safety will enter the final year of his contract in 2017, with Stewart — the starting secondary’s lone non-Pro Bowl component –now looking set to be a part of this defense for a longer period of time.

The 28-year-old former UDFA was set to become a free agent in 2017. This locks up another player from Denver’s dominant defense. Stewart (44 tackles, three interceptions this season) joins Derek Wolfe, Brandon Marshall and Von Miller as defensive starters the Broncos have re-upped this year.

Klis reports the Broncos initiated this pact in advance of the free safety’s three-turnover game against the Saints. The Broncos signed Stewart to a two-year deal worth $4.25MM in 2015, and the former Rams and Ravens defender has been a quality starter since arriving. He made a game-sealing interception in his first contest as a Bronco and has started every game in which he’s played since, also forcing a fumble and recording a sack in Super Bowl 50.

Denver’s starting secondary of Stewart, Ward, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris is locked up through next season, with Talib and Harris signed through 2019. Stewart is now signed through ’20 instead of joining DeMarcus Ware and Sylvester Williams as walk-year starting defenders.

The Broncos drafted safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks this year, pointing to a possible Stewart free agency defection like so many Broncos defenders in recent years. But the seventh-year player, who signed a one-year deal with the Ravens in 2014, will now will enter next season as a rare starter younger than 30 on a fourth contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Raiders, Chargers, Kubiak, Stewart

In the news plenty this week for their flirtations with other cities, the Raiders haven’t engaged in any formal talks with Oakland about a new stadium, Matthew Artz of the Bay Area News Group reports.

Although the Raiders have discussed another one-year lease to play in their current home, O.co Coliseum, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf confirmed no negotiations on a long-term playing site have occurred since relocation meetings took place Jan. 12 in Houston.

I recognize that the Raiders have a powerful brand and that they will always have options outside of Oakland,” Schaaf said. “And, I remain committed to proving to them that Oakland has the most to offer them.”

The Raiders have been since connected to San Antonio, San Diego and, most recently, Las Vegas in their desperate attempt to leave Oakland and secure a new stadium. But Los Angeles will still be their most likely landing spot if the Chargers reach a deal with San Diego on a stadium agreement. They remain second in line to share the Inglewood stadium with the Rams if the Chargers end up succeeding on their leverage move in San Diego.

Any Chargers deal for a publicly aided new stadium will likely need to be finalized by this summer, Artz writes, in order to get the initiative on the November ballot. If not, the Raiders’ Los Angeles path clears.

If the alternative is no deal in Oakland … or going to this fabulous new facility and not having to put any equity into it, it would be very hard for a reasonable businessman to turn that down,” stadium consultant Marc Ganis told Artz.

Here is the latest news on the Raiders and some of the other Western-division franchises.

  • In a memo sent to all 32 teams, the league notifies franchises that they shouldn’t assume the Raiders will be barred from moving to Las Vegas and no such restrictions exist on teams moving to a particular city, Vincent Bonsignore of InsideSoCal.com reports. Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk notes such a move would be extremely unlikely to receive the 24 required votes from fellow owners.
  • In a long profile of top Chargers counsel Mark Fabiani, who will presumably be involved along with Dean Spanos when the two sides resume negotiations, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Peter Rowe hears the Chargers were disinterested about the new stadium site when the sides last talked. This, of course, was before the owners designated Stan Kroenke‘s Inglewood site as Los Angeles’ new football epicenter. “[Fabiani] told us the Chargers were agnostic when it came to the stadium’s new location — it really didn’t matter to them. He told us to settle on a site, spend your time analyzing these two sites and then come up with a financial planThat’s what we did,” said Tony Manolatos, spokesman for San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer’s stadium task force, “and then he was criticizing us every step of the way.” Prior to the owners’ decision, this stance, county supervisor Ron Roberts told Rowe, was designed to make it look like the Chargers were “unloved” in San Diego.
  • Spanos overplayed his hand in his all-out pursuit of Los Angeles, Nick Canepa of the Union-Tribune writes. With talks set to likely increase between the Chargers and San Diego after being dormant for months, Canepa writes the city’s business power structure need to put their weight toward making the team’s preferred downtown stadium happen.
  • When Mike Shanahan left his post as the then-Super Bowl champion 49ers OC in early 1995 to become the Broncos’ head coach, the 49ers wanted to give their OC job to then-33-year-old Gary Kubiak, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Kubiak instead accepted the same position with Shanahan in Denver and held that job for 11 seasons, which eventually led to his return in 2015.
  • Officially questionable, Broncos safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart each vowed to play in Super Bowl 50. While Ward’s ankle injury isn’t expected to keep him out, Stewart may have a harder time playing effectively. The first-year Broncos safety’s sprained MCL’s made it difficult thus far for lateral movement, with the former Ravens back-line bastion being able to only run in a straight line in his week off from practice, per Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Stewart told media, including Pat Graham of the Associated Press, “Without a doubt in my mind, I’m playing.”

AFC Notes: Brady, Broncos, Jaguars

Tom Brady‘s season ended on a sour note Sunday when the Patriots dropped a 20-18 decision to Denver in the AFC title game. Now the 38-year-old will once again turn his focus to the Deflategate scandal that dominated headlines last offseason. As ESPN’s Mike Reiss writes, the NFL’s appeal regarding Judge Richard Berman’s Sept. 3 reversal of Brady’s four-game suspension will take place on March 3. If the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rules in favor of the league, Brady might have to sit out the early portion of the 2016 season.

More from the AFC, including a note on the conference champions:

  • Broncos safety Darian Stewart suffered a sprained MCL on Sunday, reports Troy Renck of The Denver Post (Twitter link). Stewart says he’s fine, though. “Hell yeah I will be ready for the Super Bowl,” he told Renck.
  • Despite signing a contract extension through 2017 this week, Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is facing a make-or-break 2016 campaign, opines Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union. Jags players and prospective free agents are aware that Bradley is on the hot seat, according to Frenette, who believes the 49-year-old must win at least eight games next season in order to return in ’17. The Bradley-led Jags have gone 12-36 in three years. Despite only winning five games this season, a career best for Bradley, the team does finally appear to be trending upward.
  • Before Bradley promoted ex-defensive line coach Todd Wash to D-coordinator this week, Wash had to sit in on interviews Bradley conducted with other candidates. That made Wash “uncomfortable,” he told reporters (link via Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union). “In the back of your mind, it’s human nature, you want to be the defensive coordinator,” he added.

AFC West Notes: Crabtree, Penn, Stewart, Iger

After betting on himself during the 2015 offseason, signing a modest one-year deal in the hopes of having a big season and increasing his value, Raiders wideout Michael Crabtree is happy to have a new extension in place, which will keep him from worrying about dealing with the free agent market again this winter.

“It’s always nice to get it done, right?” Crabtree said on Thursday, according to Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com. “That way we can just go play football. You ain’t worried about where you’re going to be next year and all that stuff. It’s pretty neat to know you’re wanted and you want to be on a team and you’re here.”

Here’s more on Crabtree’s new contract, along with some other items out of the AFC West:

  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com has a few more specific details on Crabtree’s four-year deal with the Raiders, tweeting that it can be worth up to $35.2MM, with a base value of $34MM. The pact doesn’t include a signing bonus, but Crabtree will make $11MM in 2016 and a total of $18MM by 2017. That $18MM is guaranteed for injury, according to Bair.
  • As Bair details at CSNBayArea.com, veteran defensive back Charles Woodson believes Crabtree’s new contract – and his decision to stay with Oakland – is a sign that this isn’t the same old Raiders. “That’s great, because you hear that people don’t want to come to Oakland, that they don’t want to play here,” Woodson said. “Things are starting to change. With Crabtree signing his deal, other free agents will take notice once that time comes around. They’ll want to know why he wanted to stick around and play in Oakland. He’ll be a great ambassador for guys who are undecided.”
  • Could left tackle Donald Penn be the next Raiders player to sign an extension? He’s not focusing on a deal right now, but says he’d like to spend the rest of his career in Oakland, as Bill Williamson of ESPN.com writes.
  • Safety Darian Stewart doesn’t have Pro Bowl nods on his resume, like many of his fellow defensive backs in Denver, but the Broncos coaching staff has referred to him as the quarterback of the secondary, and his contract is looking like one of the bargains of the 2015 free agent period. Arnie Stapleton of The Associated Press has the story.
  • Earlier today, we rounded up several quotes from Disney CEO Bob Iger on the Carson stadium proposal put forth by the Chargers and Raiders. Scott M. Reid of the Orange County Register has a few more comments from Iger, who says a Carson stadium would be well-positioned to attract football fans from Orange County.

Sunday Roundup: Borland, Saints, Mariota

Chris Borland surprised the football world when he announced his retirement in March on the heels of a promising rookie campaign. Perhaps even more surprising was that he agreed to return three-quarters of his signing bonus to the 49ers, a sum of over $460,000. Speaking at the 2015 Legends of Wisconsin Golf Classic last week, Borland was asked about his decisions and emphasized that his choice to retire was motivated by health concerns. As Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, Borland said he decided to walk away based on “a combination of my own experience, along with a lot of data that is out there regarding long-term health effects of head injuries. And I play a position and a style of play where I was susceptible to the worst of it. I played a physical brand of football and played through some things where it makes sense for me.”

When asked about why he returned a large portion of the signing bonus, Borland said simply, “I signed a contract. I was living by the contract.” As for his future plans, Borland said a trip to Europe is next on his agenda, but otherwise, “I’ve got a few pretty decent options. I’m not going to hurry up and start a career. I’m going to take my time.”

Now for a few more links from around the league:

  • We cited this mailbag from ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett yesterday to provide a surprising stat on Drew Brees, but it also made sense to pass along Triplett’s thoughts on the Saints‘ cornerback situation. Triplett writes that the top four spots are probably reserved for Keenan Lewis, Brandon Browner, P.J. Williams, and Damian Swann. After that, he sees Delvin Breaux and Stanley Jean-Baptiste as the frontrunners for what may be the final two cornerback openings on the roster, leaving veterans Kyle Wilson, Terrence Frederick, and Brian Dixon on the outside.
  • Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com thinks Marcus Mariota is determined to be present at Titans training camp, though it is possible his agents could convince him to stay away. The holdup in the team’s contract negotiations with its potential quarterback of the future is offset language, and Kuharsky writes that GM Ruston Webster simply needs to get Mariota to camp, either by convincing him the Titans are not going to move off their offset philosophy or by coming off their offset philosophy.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer believes the Browns are pretty pleased with their current tight end situation, and she does not foresee the team adding to its TE corps. She also says Cleveland is hopeful that one of its talented young running backs will ultimately separate himself from the pack, but that the Browns will distribute the rushing duties fairly evenly to open the season.
  • Mike Klis of 9News.com examines the impact newly-acquired safety Darian Stewart will have on the Broncos and whether the former Ram and Raven will represent an upgrade over Rahim Moore, who departed in free agency.

AFC Notes: Browns, Housler, Titans, Jags, Pats

Having lost Jordan Cameron to the Dolphins and missed out on Charles Clay, who signed with the Bills, the Browns are considering tight end Rob Housler, writes Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. According to Fowler, the Browns have had discussions with Housler, and there’s mutual interest between the two sides, but no visit has been planned and no deal is imminent. Housler, who turned 27 last week, caught just nine balls for the Cardinals last season after recording 84 combined receptions in 2012 and 2013.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean takes a closer look at Tommy Smith‘s decision to retire as CEO of the Titans, reporting that the decision was made in part because of a shift in thinking within the club’s ownership group. According to Wyatt, there was no longer a consensus among ownership that Smith’s wife, Susie Adams Smith, daughter of the late Bud Adams, should be the franchise’s controlling owner. The Titans are currently on the lookout for a new president and CEO.
  • Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley discussed one running back his team landed and one that got away, telling reporters today, including Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union (Twitter links) that GM David Caldwell has done “a lot of research” on Bernard Pierce, and that the team “held [its] stance” in pursuit of DeMarco Murray.
  • Patriots owner Robert Kraft pointed to upcoming free agencies for players like Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower in explaining why the team couldn’t offer Darrelle Revis a massive contract, tweets Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
  • Per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter), Darian Stewart‘s two-year contract with the Broncos is worth $4.25MM, with a $1.5MM signing bonus and a 2016 escalator.

Broncos Sign Darian Stewart

3:02pm: The Broncos have officially confirmed their deal with Stewart, via a press release.

2:25pm: After losing Rahim Moore to the Texans, the Broncos have reached an agreement with a free agent safety of their own. Mike Klis of the Denver Post reports (via Twitter) that the team has struck a two-year deal with former Ravens safety Darian Stewart.

Stewart met with the Broncos earlier this week and visited the Falcons today. The Giants were also said to have interest in the 26-year-old, but Stewart apparently didn’t make it to New York for a visit.

Prior to the 2014 season, Stewart had alternated between reserve and starting roles in St. Louis during four seasons with the Rams. The Ravens made him a full-time starter last year, and he delivered 56 tackles to go along with an interception and a forced fumble. According to Pro Football Focus’ grades (subscription required), Stewart ranked as a solid starter, placing 30th out of 87 qualified safeties.