De'Vondre Campbell

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Seahawks, 49ers

The Cardinals used their first-round pick on Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, widely regarded as one of the more versatile draft prospects in recent memory. Arizona defensive coordinator Vance Joseph told the media Tuesday that Simmons would primarily be a linebacker in the NFL, but that overall he’d be a “problem-solver” for the defense, via Darren Urban of the team’s official site.

Urban notes that Joseph said while he might not be able to do all the things he did in college, he still wants “Isaiah to be Isaiah.” Simmons played safety, corner, and linebacker at Clemson. “”If it’s a job that we think he can do, we will put him out there,” Joseph said. That echoes what Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has said since the draft, and it sounds like the team still isn’t sure exactly how they’re going to use him.

  • Speaking of Cardinals linebackers, they also signed De’Vondre Campbell to a one-year deal worth up to $8.5MM this offseason. In his comments to the media Joseph revealed that Campbell was the team’s top free agent target, but they initially didn’t think they would be able to get him because of his price. Eventually, Campbell lowered what he was asking for in exchange for a one-year deal. A 2016 fourth-round pick, Campbell spent the past four years as a starter with the Falcons. Along with Simmons, Arizona is counting on him to help revamp one of the league’s worst units.
  • The Seahawks did some shuffling on their offensive line the past couple days, releasing veteran interior linemen D.J. Fluker and Justin Britt. Turns out, Britt was released with a failed physical designation, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. It’s not shocking considering Britt’s 2019 season ended back in October with a torn ACL. As Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets, this could reduce the cap space Seattle gains a bit since they’ll have to pay him a settlement if he doesn’t sign with another team in 2020. Condotta also notes that it’s one reason the release took a while. Still, we’ve heard Britt hasn’t suffered any setbacks with his knee, so the proven starter should land on his feet with a new team at some point.
  • Longtime 49ers left tackle Joe Staley recently decided to hang up his cleats, and the team acquired Trent Williams as a short-term replacement. They’ve indicated they won’t be ironing out an extension with Williams any time soon, and it’s highly possible he’s a one-year rental. That would leave them in need of another successor, and one potential option could be right tackle Mike McGlinchey. However, the 2018 first-round pick said he has no idea if he’ll ever become a left tackle and that he feels very comfortable on the right side, via Matt Maiocco of NBCSports.com (Twitter link). This echoes what we heard back in March when Staley was still mulling retirement, and it doesn’t sound like the team has any plans to move the Notre Dame product.

Cardinals To Sign De’Vondre Campbell

Another day, another pay day for a Drew Rosenhaus client. On Thursday, the Cardinals agreed to sign former Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to a one-year deal worth up to $8.5MM, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

The exact terms of the deal are not yet known, so it will be interesting to see how much Campbell has secured in the form of guaranteed dollars and base pay. The real dollar amount is likely to be favorable for him – last year, he led the Falcons in tackles for the second straight year and turned in a perfect attendance record for the third straight season.

Campbell is a top-end run-stopper who took a major leap forward in 2019. In a perfect world, the Falcons would have liked to keep him, but the numbers crunch has forced them to make some tough choices in March.

Campbell drew trade interest before the deadline in October, but the Falcons opted to hold on to him. After a disappointing season, the Falcons might regret passing up the opportunity to get something in return for him. On the plus side, Campbell may factor into their compensatory pick formula.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons To Let Hooper, Campbell Test FA

The Falcons would like to re-sign two of their key players, but they won’t stop them from testing the open waters. Tight ends Austin Hooper and De’Vondre Campbell will be permitted to explore free agency, GM Thomas Dimitroff told reporters on Tuesday morning (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). 

[RELATED: Falcons To Pick Up Matt Schaub’s Option]

As of this writing, the Falcons have approximately $5MM in cap room. They can carve out more by shedding running back Devonta Freeman, safety Keanu Neal, offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo, defensive lineman Allen Bailey, and other veterans, but their cap situation will be tight regardless. Meanwhile, they have other areas to address, including the secondary.

Hooper took full advantage of his walk year, reeling in 75 catches, 787 yards, and six touchdowns in just 13 games. He’s a dynamic threat at the tight end position with two 70-catch seasons under his belt and it’s expected that he’ll be lavished with big money offers when the bell rings in March. Hooper is still just 25 (he turns 26 in November) and retaining him would require a top-of-the-market deal.

At one point in January, the Falcons and Campbell were discussing an extension. But, over the last few weeks, those talks between Dimitroff and agent Drew Rosenhaus have slowed down. Last year, Campbell led the Falcons in tackles for the second straight year and turned in a perfect attendance record for the third straight season. As a young and elite run-stopper, Campbell may have also priced himself out of Atlanta.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons, De’Vondre Campbell Talking Extension

De’Vondre Campbell is scheduled for free agency, but he might not make it to the open market. The Falcons have begun contract talks with the linebacker, as ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure tweets.

[RELATED: Falcons Coach Mike Mularkey Retires]

There will be a lot of interest in Dre,” agent Drew Rosenhaus said. “We have had positive dialogue with the Falcons. Dre will be a highly sought-after player.”

Campbell has expressed interest in staying with the Falcons, but it’s possible that he might not fit into their budget. Ideally, the Falcons would love to keep him – Campbell led the team with 129 tackles last year (he also led the way in 2018) and won’t turn 27 until July. Over the last three years, he has not missed a single game.

In the past, the Falcons have spent the money necessary to lock up key players, including linebacker Deion Jones. But, the former fourth-round pick is due for a monumental pay bump.

Campbell drew trade interest before the deadline in October, but the Falcons opted to hold on to him. That speaks volumes for their own evaluation of him, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll get a deal done before March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Teams Identifying Falcons Trade Targets

While standout contract-year Broncos (and Von Miller) have cropped up in trade rumors, teams are also monitoring select Falcons. Atlanta has slunk to 1-4 and has a few key veterans on expiring contracts.

Vic Beasley, De’Vondre Campbell and Austin Hooper are on some teams’ radars, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. The Falcons gave megadeals to a defensive lineman (Grady Jarrett), a linebacker (Deion Jones) and a pass catcher (Julio Jones) this summer but have the above starters in contract years. This year’s trade deadline is Oct. 29.

Arthur Blank said the Falcons are not considering staff changes, but with this veteran team struggling (and the Redskins firing Jay Gruden), Dan Quinn‘s seat may be the NFL’s hottest. The Falcons are 8-13 since advancing to the divisional round in 2017, and they’ve gone through several coordinators since the Super Bowl LI collapse.

Pro Football Focus graded Beasley as its worst full-time edge defender in 2018. The site again has the 2015 first-round pick toward the bottom this season. Beasley (1.5 sacks, five QB hits) has nearly $10MM remaining on his 2019 fifth-year option, making a trade a tougher sell. The 27-year-old pass rusher was a 2016 All-Pro, however, after racking up 15.5 sacks during Atlanta’s NFC title slate.

Campbell has started alongside Jones since the duo’s 2016 rookie season, rates as PFF’s No. 33 off-ball linebacker and is finishing out a fourth-round contract. Less than $2MM remains on Campbell’s 2019 salary. He has made a Falcons-best 48 tackles and forced two fumbles this season. Finishing up a third-round contract, Hooper has served as the Falcons’ top tight end for multiple seasons. His 363 yards in 2019 rank third among tight ends.

Projected to be more than $10MM over the 2020 cap, the Falcons will almost certainly have to let some of these UFAs-to-be walk if they are not traded. The Falcons could fetch 2021 compensatory picks for them, however, depending on their 2020 free agency activity.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2019 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $2MM in 2019. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

Bears: RB Jordan Howard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

Broncos: G Connor McGovern, S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons

Browns: S Derrick Kindred, LB Joe Schobert

Buccaneers: G Caleb Benenoch, DE Carl Nassib, CB Ryan Smith

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown

Chiefs: CB Kendall Fuller, WR Tyreek Hill, S Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson

Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett, T Joe Haeg

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown, DT Maliek Collins, QB Dak Prescott

Dolphins: RB Kenyan Drake

Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, G Wes Schweitzer

Jaguars: DE Yannick Ngakoue

Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Rashard Robinson, T Brandon Shell

Lions: C Graham Glasgow

Packers: LB Kyler Fackrell, DE Dean Lowry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Antonio Morrison

Patriots: G Joe Thuney, LB Elandon Roberts

Rams: G Austin Blythe, TE Tyler Higbee

Ravens: DE Matt Judon, OL Alex Lewis, CB Tavon Young

Saints: DT David Onyemata

Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

Texans: DT D.J. Reader

Titans: S Kevin Byard, WR Tajae Sharpe

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Falcons Sign Entire Draft Class

The Falcons have now signed their entire draft class, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com writes. Strong safety Keanu Neal (whose signing was completed days ago), linebacker Deion Jones (second round), tight end Austin Hooper (third round), linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (fourth round), guard Wes Schweitzer (sixth round), and wide receiver Devin Fuller (seventh round) have all put pen to paper. Deion Jones (vertical)

Jones, an LSU product, finished out his college career in style with 88 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and three passes defensed. Jones started only one game through his first three years in Baton Rouge, but he exploded when given the opportunity in his senior season. Jones impressed scouts with a 4.38 second 40-yard-dash at his Pro Day and despite concerns about being undersized, he drew interest from a host of teams looking for a tough linebacker.

In other Falcons news, linebacker O’Brien Schofield is lobbying hard for a reunion. Meanwhile, free agent cornerback Leon Hall remains on the open market after his visit with Atlanta.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Rumors: Prescott, Miller, Kearse

Here’s the latest from the next wave of prospects set to enter the league, starting with a dual-threat quarterback.

  • Dak Prescott will work out for the Broncos and other teams in early April, according to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com. The former Mississippi State standout rushed for more than 800 yards in both his sophomore and junior campaigns. Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson and Cardinals QBs boss Freddie Kitchens trekked to Starkville, Miss., to work out Prescott this week as well. Following his Broncos workout, Prescott will visit the Bills and Eagles, Goodbread reports.
  • From one current dual-threat quarterback to a former standout hybrid signal-caller, Braxton Miller worked out for the Texans today, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller tweets. The former Ohio State standout and two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year at quarterback is working out as a slot receiver after being supplanted last season under center.
  • The Browns, Buccaneeers, Lions and Saints are gracing Ohio State safety Vonn Bell‘s itinerary for workouts and/or meetings, Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. The early-entry Buckeyes safety already met with Tennessee.
  • Clemson safety Jayron Kearse will has summits and/or workouts with the Panthers, Saints and Titans on his spring docket, Getlin tweets. The 6-foot-5 safety registered 6.5 tackles for loss as a junior last season.
  • The Titans, Seahawks, Raiders and Falcons appear on Florida defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard‘s schedule, Getlin reports (on Twitter). Bullard’s 6.5 sacks as a senior last season tied for a Gators-best mark, and his 18 tackles for loss were easily the best on the team.
  • Minnesota linebacker De’Vondre Campbell will meet with the Cardinals, Falcons, Chiefs and Vikings soon, Goodbread tweets.
  • The Texans and Patriots ventured to Minneapolis recently to look at some of the Gophers’ NFL prospects, Ryan Burns of scout.com tweets. The Texans’ contingent looked at the Gophers’ prospects last week, with the Patriots’ bevy of personnel making the trip earlier this week, per Burns. Cornerbacks Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun are also among Minnesota’s top draft-eligible players. According to Darren Wolfson of KTSP (on Twitter), the teams were scouting Murry, Boddy-Calhoun and Campbell.
  • Arizona safety William Parks will visit the Seahawks and Browns after showing well in his workout, Tony Pauline of Draftinsider.net reports. Wildcats offensive lineman Lene Maiava has visits scheduled with the Chargers and Seahawks, Pauline reports.
  • Tennessee wide receiver Marquez North worked out for the Cowboys, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle/National Football Post reports. North tore his labrum in 2014 and saw injuries limit him to six catches last season but decided to enter the draft as a junior anyway.

Draft Rumors: Wentz, 49ers, Chargers, Titans

Here’s the latest on the incoming prospect pool and the interested teams.

  • Hue Jackson will attend Carson Wentz‘s pro day Thursday but won’t trek to Memphis to observe Paxton Lynch‘s due to the Browns being in “training mode” by the time Lynch throws for scouts April 6, according to ESPNCleveland.com’s Tony Grossi (on Twitter).
  • The 49ers have used some of their 30 permitted visits on several top prospects, including cornerbacks Eli Apple and Mackensie Alexander, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports. Ole Miss first-round prospects Laquon Treadwell and Robert Nkemdiche are also among players the 49ers, who hold the No. 7 pick, has met with or plans to.
  • Toledo wide receiver Alonzo Russell will work out for the Cowboys after previously meeting with the Packers, Aaron Wilson of National Football Post reports. Russell totaled 13 touchdowns and more than 1,300 receiving yards during his junior and senior seasons.
  • Ex-Alabama cornerback/kick returner Cyrus Jones has a full itinerary, with visits with the Ravens, Eagles, Bills and Saints lined up, Wilson reports (on Twitter). Jones also has private workouts with the Buccaneers and Panthers scheduled, per Wilson.
  • Mississippi State tight end Darrion Hutcherson will visit the Chargers, per Wilson. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Hutcherson played in 26 games for the Bulldogs, logging just six starts.
  • The Chargers are also set to meet with former Buffalo tackle John Kling, Wilson tweets. The 6-foot-7, 315-pound Bulls lineman played right and left tackle in his five years at the university.
  • The Titans plan to host Ohio State safety Vonn Bell on a workout, Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com tweets. The 5-11, 205-pound early-entry safety made six interceptions as a sophomore in 2014 after joining the Buckeyes in 2013 as a five-star recruit.
  • Former Minnesota linebacker De’Vondre Campbell will visit the nearby professional franchise, with the Vikings summit on April 5-6, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. A fifth-year senior, Campbell recorded 92 tackles for the Gophers while also registering a team-high four sacks last season.
  • The Colts are hosting former Arkansas linebacker Myke Tavarres, who transferred to Incarnate Word, on an April 7 visit, Wilson tweets.
  • The Buccaneers are set to host North Carolina Central defensive back Ryan Smith on a visit, Wilson reports (on Twitter).