Dee Ford

West Rumors: 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos

It’s been a long offseason for the 49ers, who have seen numerous key players deal with injuries throughout the spring and summer. Add more to the list of San Francisco talents set to miss the preseason. Jerick McKinnon and Weston Richburg are both unlikely to play until Week 1. Given $18MM guaranteed, McKinnon is still dealing with knee trouble after missing all of last season with an ACL tear. The sixth-year running back received a platelet-rich plasma injection on his knee and is expected to miss the 49ers’ August slate, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com notes. The team activated him from the PUP list Tuesday, but Kyle Shanahan said his prized 2018 offseason signing experienced significant soreness after going through individual drills the past two days. Richburg, who remains on the active/PUP list after a January knee surgery, is being targeted a Week 1 return. So are Nick Bosa and Jason Verrett. The 49ers hope Dee Ford, who received a PRP injection on his injured knee, can play by the team’s dress-rehearsal preseason game.

Here’s the latest West news from outside of San Francisco:

  • With the Seahawks in desperate need of available pass rushers come Week 1, more blitz opportunities may be on tap. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks (should he be on the field) are in position to be used more as rushers. “If we can play really good D, it’s going to be because of Bobby and K.J. and Mychal and the guys in the linebacker spot. We’re going to utilize them as much as we can to be a factor in all aspects, run and pass [defense],” Pete Carroll said, via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson. “Those guys are really good pass defenders, and they love coming off the edge too. We’ll plan on using those guys a lot.” After Frank Clark‘s departure, the Seahawks have Ziggy Ansah and L.J. Collier injured. Jarran Reed incurred a six-game suspension. Wright has not collected a sack since 2016, when he had four. Wagner had 4.5 that year but recorded 2.5 since.
  • Theo Riddick will earn a $2MM 2019 base salary with the Broncos, and $750K of it is fully guaranteed, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Another $250K will be available in per-game roster bonuses. Overall, Riddick signed for $2.5MM with $1MM guaranteed. This makes it a near-certainty Riddick will appear on the Broncos’ 53-man roster in September.
  • The Broncos are already down Todd Davis for multiple weeks; they will be without one of his top backups for longer than that. Joe Jones suffered a triceps injury this week, and a second opinion delivered more clarity on the inside linebacker’s timeline. Jones will be out between six and eight weeks, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. But he will not need surgery, which could increase his chances of making the Broncos. If Jones hits IR before the Broncos finalize their 53-man unit, the special-teamer will be ineligible to return for them this season.
  • Returning 2018 fifth-round pick Johnny Townsend would seemingly be in line to keep his job as the Raiders‘ punter, but Jon Gruden said rookie UDFA A.J. Cole has put himself in the conversation to unseat the incumbent, per Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (on Twitter). Cole would be an option to handle Raiders kickoffs as well.

Colts Sign Justin Houston

The Colts have reached agreement on a deal with former Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). It’s a two-year, $24MM deal, Schefter adds (Twitter link). 

The deal includes $18.5MM in total guarantees, according to Stephen Holder of the Indy Star (on Twitter). That’s a larger-than-expected guarantee for Houston, who did not have a ton of suitors following his release from Kansas City.

The Chiefs tried to trade Houston this offseason, but no club was willing to take on his $15.25MM base salary. On March 10, they released him outright. By cutting Houston, the Chiefs saved $14MM in cap space while absorbing $7.1MM in dead money.

Houston led the NFL with 22 sacks in 2014, but his free agent market has been eerily quiet over the last couple of weeks. Now, he’ll join the Colts as he enters his age-30 campaign.

The Colts recently explored a trade for Dee Ford, Schefter notes (on Twitter), but they ultimately held on to their draft picks and landed his former Chiefs teammate.

Houston can still be an effective player, as evidenced by his 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Pro Football Focus graded him as the NFL’s 14th-best edge defender last year, and his presence should go a long way towards bolstering the Colts’ lackluster pass rush. And, while a 4-3 scheme might not be a perfect fit for Houston, he can still be a disruptor in Matt Eberflus‘ system.

The addition of Houston may also alter the Colts’ draft plans. The Colts may still look for a young edge rusher in April, but having Houston on the roster may allow them to stand pat at No. 26 rather than trading up for an upper-echelon prospect.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Ford, Mosley, Crowder

Some assorted contract details from around the NFL:

49ers, Chiefs Agree To Dee Ford Trade

The Chiefs will send Dee Ford to San Francisco. The 49ers have agreed to send their 2020 second-round pick to the Chiefs for the franchise-tagged pass rusher, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. We heard earlier tonight that the two sides were discussing a trade.

The teams have agreed on compensation, and it sounds like the 49ers and Ford have agreed to an extension. ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweets that Ford has signed a five-year, $87.5MM deal with his new squad. Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo tweets that the deal contains around $45MM in guaranteed money.

The 49ers are in need of edge-rushing talent, and Ford would certainly fit the bill. Ford registered a career-high 13 sacks last season, making his first Pro Bowl. Ford played in a 4-3 at Auburn and, interestingly, would be a full-time end in the 49ers’ 4-3. Beyond Ford, the Chiefs have 2018 second-round pick Breeland Speaks and 2017 second-rounder Tanoh Kpassagnon. Those two have combined for 3.5 sacks in three seasons.

The Chiefs had reportedly been shopping Ford even they slapped him with a franchise tag that will pay him up a bit more than $15MM. The front office had reportedly been seeking a second-rounder in exchange for Ford, but there were some pundits who believed that organization may have to settle for a third-rounder plus another asset. Ultimately, it sounds like San Francisco was willing to meet Kansas City’s asking price.

The Chiefs pass-rushing corps will look a whole lot different next season. The team recently released Justin Houston, leaving the team with few edge defenders on the roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs, 49ers In Advanced Dee Ford Talks

The Chiefs and 49ers are deep in talks about a Dee Ford trade, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, adding this deal could end up being finalized on Tuesday night.

This would be a major move for a Chiefs franchise that just released Justin Houston. The Chiefs put out trade feelers for both Houston and Ford, but speculation persisted about the team being prepared to jettison only one of its edge starters. But now? The 2019 Chiefs’ pass rush may look quite different from the most recent corps.

Should this trade come to pass, the Chiefs may not be likely to obtain one of the 49ers’ top two draft picks. They were targeting a Round 2 choice for Ford, but Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller tweets a third-rounder and an additional asset may end being the return. This would be similar to Kansas City’s 2018 Alex Smith trade, which brought back a third-round pick and Kendall Fuller.

San Francisco was one of the destinations mentioned for Ford. The 49ers are in need of edge-rushing talent and have been linked to that spot with their No. 2 draft pick. They may soon be in position to work out a new contract with Ford, on whom the Chiefs placed their franchise tag. That component will be key in this process, per Rapoport.

Ford, who is set for his age-28 season, was given the linebacker franchise tag — worth just more than $15MM.

This would leave the Chiefs with no proven edge rushers. But the tag-and-trade scenario would free up more than $15MM in cap space, whereas the team had to eat some dead money in its Houston release.

Ford registered a career-high 13 sacks last season, making his first Pro Bowl. While he has not been especially reliable in his career, he is by far the Chiefs’ best in-house edge rusher. But with K.C. moving to a 4-3 defense, new DC Steve Spagnuolo appears to be willing to rock the boat to find better fits.

Ford played in a 4-3 at Auburn and, interestingly, would be a full-time end in the 49ers’ 4-3. Beyond Ford, the Chiefs have 2018 second-round pick Breeland Speaks and 2017 second-rounder Tanoh Kpassagnon. Those two have combined for 3.5 sacks in three seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Rudolph, Browns, Packers

Kyle Rudolph isn’t going anywhere. We heard earlier today that the Vikings had asked Rudolph to take a pay-cut, but his management team is pushing back forcefully on those rumors. Rudolph’s agent, Brian Murphy, released a statement saying “despite rumors, Vikings are not in negotiations with Kyle Rudolph, have not asked him to take a pay reduction and have told us explicitly that Rudy will not only be on the team this year, but hopefully for years to come,” via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

It’s a strong statement, and it doesn’t leave much room for doubt. Rudolph is scheduled to make $7.275MM next season and the Vikings have almost no salary cap space, but they’ll apparently have to create room somewhere else. Rudolph has spent the last eight seasons in Minnesota after the Vikings took him in the second round of the 2011 draft. He hasn’t been in the top-tier of tight ends, but he’s been a solid and consistent player, and he made the Pro Bowl in 2017. Rudolph has also been very durable recently, appearing in all 16 games in four straight years.

Here’s more from around the league’s northern divisions:

  • Greg Robinson signed a one-year deal to return to the Browns a couple of weeks ago, and now we have the details on the contract. Interestingly, his new pact includes $500K in weigh-in bonuses, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Robinson will have weigh-ins around once a month starting in April all the way through the regular season, which suggests Cleveland wasn’t too happy with the weight he played at last year. Robinson’s deal has a base salary of $5.5MM with a $500K signing bonus, $400K in per-game roster bonuses, and a $100K workout bonus. He could face competition from a rookie, but right now the former second overall pick projects as the team’s starting left tackle.
  • Speaking of the Browns, the status of receiver Breshad Perriman is still up in the air. The former first round pick and draft bust with the Ravens revitalized his career in Cleveland last year, but is now set to be an unrestricted free agent. The “two sides aren’t close” on a deal, but Perriman “wants to be back, and realizes that Baker Mayfield helped him resuscitate his career,” according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Kay Cabot writes that Perriman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, “wants to let the market” set the price for the 25-year-old receiver. After joining the Browns mid-season, Perriman had 233 yards and two touchdowns the final four weeks of the year.
  • The Packers have reportedly expressed interest in Chiefs pass-rusher Dee Ford. But trading for Ford, who has been franchise-tagged by Kansas City, may prove difficult for Green Bay. Any team that trades for Ford is likely to try and sign him to a longterm deal, but the Packers don’t usually like longterm deals with a ton of guaranteed money and prefer to structure deals with large signing bonuses instead, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). That could be a problem because as Rapoport points out, Ford has the same agent as Le’Veon Bell, and the agent takes a very strong stance on the need for more guaranteed money in deals. None of this means the Packers won’t be able to trade for Ford, but it’s an interesting note nonetheless, and it could force them to turn their focus elsewhere as they look for pass-rushing help.

Packers, 49ers Have Expressed Interest In Dee Ford

The Chiefs have some suitors for Dee Ford. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the organization has a “market” for the pass rusher, with the Packers and 49ers among the teams that have expressed interest in a trade.

Kansas City slapped Ford with the franchise tag earlier this week, and subsequent reports indicated that they were shopping the Pro Bowler. The Chiefs are reportedly seeking a second-rounder for the 27-year-old, who finished last season with 55 tackles, 13 sacks, and seven forced fumbles.

While the asking price isn’t particularly high, an acquiring team would be required to pay Ford’s $15.433MM salary for next season. This number has the chance to increase; as our own Dallas Robinson pointed out, Ford is likely to file a grievance arguing that he’s a defensive end, and that would boost his franchise value to $17.128MM in 2019.

The Packers have been seeking an edge rusher, and Ford would be an easy replacement for free agent linebacker Clay Matthews. Meanwhile, the 49ers defensive line showed some intrigue in 2018, and adding a player of Ford’s caliber would surely boost the defense’s ceiling in 2019.

Chiefs Want Second-Round Pick For Dee Ford?

After deploying the franchise tag on edge rusher Dee Ford, the Chiefs may be willing to trade the veteran linebacker/defensive end, and the price might not be all that steep. Kansas City is looking for a second-round pick in exchange for Ford, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Fresh off a career year in 2018, Ford will be expensive next season. The linebacker franchise tag will cost $15.433MM, but there’s a chance Ford could push to earn even more. Ford is likely to file a grievance arguing that he’s a defensive end, and being tagged at that position would enable him to collect $17.128MM in 2019. That’s a hefty total, especially for a Chiefs team that only has roughly $10MM in cap space after accounting for Ford’s salary.

In addition to his cost, Ford’s role in new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo‘s 4-3 scheme has been questioned. Ford played defensive end in college, however, and the Chiefs faced three-plus wide receivers more than 80% of the time in 2018, per Warren Sharp. That means Kansas City was in nickel formations with Ford lined up as a pass-rusher. Indeed, Pro Football Focus charts Ford with only 107 coverage snaps all season, meaning concerns about a role change are likely overblown.

Ford, 27, hasn’t always been a star since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2014. He was relatively quiet in his first two pro campaigns before erupting for 10 sacks in 2016. An injury wiped out most of Ford’s 2017 season, but also forced the Chiefs to retain him via his injury-guaranteed fifth-year option. Ford subsequently posted the best results of his career, putting up 10 sacks and 48.5 pressures (second in the NFL) while grading as PFF’s 11th-best edge defender.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Tags, Haskins, Jets, Bucs

Both the Chiefs and Texans may be in for grievances. Both teams used their franchise tags on edge defenders — Dee Ford and Jadeveon Clowney, respectively — and each team officially classified its tag recipient as a linebacker. The linebacker tag comes at a $15.443MM price. Both players have cases to be tagged as defensive ends, with Clowney frequently lining up as a lineman for Houston and Ford set to play end in Kansas City’s new 4-3 scheme. The defensive end price: $17.128MM — the second-highest tag figure. Clowney already received just more than $1MM from the Texans to resolve a dispute about what position he was categorized as in regards to his fifth-year option. That may go toward preempting a grievance here, but it’s not certain. A Ford grievance seems likely. He spends more time rushing from the defensive end position in the Chiefs’ sub-packages. Terrell Suggs filed a grievance about a linebacker tag in 2008, and an arbitrator ruled the parties to split the difference between the linebacker and end tags. But this is a case-by-case process.

Here is the latest from the pre-free agency news cycle:

  • While Janoris Jenkins is set to avoid cap-casualty status, another member of the Giants‘ 2016 free agency defender splurge may not. Whether Olivier Vernon is traded or cut, the veteran edge rusher is a near-certainty to be jettisoned from the Giants’ defense, Tom Rock of Newsday notes. As is the case with Landon Collins‘ exit, a Vernon departure would create a massive need on a New York defense that has several need areas.
  • Dwayne Haskins has been a popular mock pick for the Giants, and Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes Big Blue indeed has been “all over” the Ohio State-developed quarterback, researching his viability as Eli Manning‘s successor. Dave Gettleman does not plan to turn the keys over to a later-round pick, with Vacchiano adding the heir apparent will be a first-round choice. So if the Giants balk at a passer with another top-10 pick, they may be willing to roll the dice one more time and wait until 2020.
  • Mike Maccagnan has said the Jets will be aggressive in free agency, which would make sense given the team’s plethora of needs and $100MM-plus in cap space. Gang Green will attempt to find a center and a guard in free agency, per Vacchiano. This comes after the Jets cut 2018 center Spencer Long. There are some interesting center options, with Matt Paradis and Mitch Morse set to hit the market. At guard, there aren’t as many younger free agents; the top options are deeper into their careers.
  • Donovan Smith‘s 2019 cap figure will still be hefty, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com, who notes the Buccaneers‘ left tackle will carry a $12.5MM figure next season. Although it is not the $14.1MM figure Smith was briefly attached to via the franchise tag, that is still a large number for a team that does not have much cap space. Smith’s 2020 and ’21 base salaries will be $14.5MM and $14.25MM, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
  • Former Bears head coach Mark Trestman will return to coach in the States. He’s been hired as HC of the XFL’s Tampa Bay team. He joins Bob Stoops, Jim Zorn and Pep Hamilton as coaches to have signed on with the rebooting league. An acclaimed CFL coach prior to his two-season Bears stay, Trestman went back to Canada and was the Toronto Argonauts’ HC for the past two seasons.

Chiefs Use Franchise Tag On Dee Ford

Another franchise tag is official. The Chiefs placed theirs on Dee Ford, as has been long expected.

Kansas City’s pass rusher situation is far from certain, as free agency approaches. Both Ford and Justin Houston, who is still a Chief for now, have been dangled in trade talks. But the younger player appears likely to stay for the 2019 season.

The expectation now is Houston will be released before free agency commences. This would place a greater internal value on Ford, who has not been a consistent pass rusher but is nevertheless coming off his best season. Ford forced seven fumbles in 2018 and registered 13 sacks, finally delivering on the promise the Chiefs envisioned when they used their 2014 first-round pick on him.

Ford sticking around for 2019 would mean a switch to defensive end, with new DC Steve Spagnuolo converting the Chiefs to a 4-3 team. Ford, 28, may be set for a fight about his position distinction, with the Chiefs potentially arguing he should be tagged as a linebacker — since he played five years in their old 3-4 scheme. However, Ford’s camp will certainly counter he should be classified as an end, since that’s where he will play in 2019. The linebacker tag is $15.443MM; tagged ends receive $17.128MM.