Eli Apple

Raiders’ Deal With Eli Apple Falls Through

The Raiders agreed to a one-year, $6MM deal with cornerback Eli Apple during the first wave of the free agent period, but that agreement has since fallen through, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

While Schefter doesn’t indicate exactly why Apple’s deal with Las Vegas is being nixed, Apple does have a recent injury history that theoretically could have played a role. An ankle injury forced the 24-year-old to miss the Saints’ final regular season game and Divisional Round contest against the Vikings. Given the COVID-19 crisis, players aren’t able to conduct normal physicals with team medical staffs, so it’s possible Apple’s ankle issue was a factor in the undoing of his pact.

Apple, a first-round pick in the 2016 draft, spent the first two years and change of his career with the Giants before being dealt to New Orleans ahead of the 2018 trade deadline. He went on to start 20 total games with the Saints, and his performance was something close to average, as Pro Football Focus graded him as the league’s No. 61 corner among 112 qualifiers in 2019.

Apple immediately becomes one of the best cornerbacks available on the open market, while the Raiders are now once again hunting for a new defensive back to play alongside fellow corners Trayvon Mullen and Nevin Lawson. Aside from Apple, other free agent options include Darqueze Dennard (who, like Apple, had an agreed-to deal canceled), Dre KirkpatrickAqib Talib, Johnathan Joseph, and Ross Cockrell.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Brees, Mariota, Apple

Let’s take a closer look at the details of a few recently-signed free agent contracts:

AFC

  • Marcus Mariota, QB (Raiders): Two years, $17.6MM $7.5MM guaranteed. $2.4MM in incentives available in 2020 (60% snaps). $1.5MM in playtime and win incentives. $10MM in similar incentives available in 2021. $2MM in playoff/Super Bowl wins each year. $12MM 2021 salary escalator (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of NFL.com).
  • Eli Apple, QB (Raiders): One year, $6MM. Fully guaranteed. $500K available via incentives (Twitter link via Garafolo.
  • Pierre Desir, CB (Jets): One year, ~$3.75MM. Max value of $5.5MM via incentives (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News).
  • Chad Henne, QB (Chiefs): Two years, $3.25MM. $2MM guaranteed. Max value of $7.25MM (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com).
  • Nelson Agholor, WR (Raiders): One year, veteran salary benefit. $887K guaranteed. $137K signing bonus (Twitter link via Pelissero).

NFC

  • Drew Brees, QB (Saints): Four years, $100MM. $25MM guaranteed. Void years used in 2022-23. Brees receives no-trade clause and no franchise/transition tag can be used after 2021 (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Jalen Mills, DB (Eagles): One, $4MM. Up to $1MM available via incentives (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio).
  • Thomas Davis, LB (Redskins): One year, $3.5MM. $250K available via incentives (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Shon Coleman, T (49ers): One year, $2.2MM. $1.37MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Miles Killebrew, S (Lions): One year, $2MM. $1.137MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Jayron Kearse, S (Lions): One year, $2MM. Up to $1.25MM available via incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Pharoh Cooper, WR (Panthers): One year, $1.21MM. $300K signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).

Raiders Agree To Terms With CB Eli Apple

The Raiders continue to spend money revamping their defense. Las Vegas has agreed to terms with free agent cornerback Eli Apple, Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune tweets.

Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have been handing out big contracts left and right to defenders, already signing defensive end Carl Nassib, linebacker Cory Littleton, defensive tackle Maliek Collins, and safety Jeff Heath. We also heard that the Raiders offered more money for corner Byron Jones than the Dolphins did before Miami signed him to his record-breaking contract, so they’ve certainly been bold.

The Raiders have been low on talent on that side of the ball during Gruden’s first two years back coaching the team, but this flurry of activity is still wild. They’ve now essentially added a player at every defensive position, and Paul Guenther’s unit is going to look entirely different when they take the field at their new stadium for the first time.

Apple was drafted tenth overall by the Giants back in 2016, and things didn’t go smoothly in New York. Although he flashed talent his tenure there was strained from the start, and he frequently clashed with teammates and coaches over a perceived lack of effort on his end. Eventually he was traded to the Saints for fourth and seventh-round picks midway through the 2018 campaign.

The change of scenery seemed to do him some good, and he developed into a somewhat consistent starter opposite Marshon Lattimore in New Orleans. Apple was only 20 when he was drafted and is still only 24, so he should have more room to grow. He’ll now be a key piece of a very young and intriguing Raiders secondary that includes last year’s early picks Trayvon Mullen and Johnathan Abram.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Brees, Ryan, Apple, Slay, Johnson

The latest injury updates from around the league:

  • Drew Brees has missed five games now, and it looks like the Saints quarterback is nearing a return. Brees said he will return to practice this week and that he hopes to play in Week 8 against the Cardinals, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That being said Brees told Triplett he’s still taking a “we’ll see” approach, so it’s far from guaranteed he suits up against Arizona. Still, he’s clearly going to be back soon. Teddy Bridgewater has gone 5-0 in his absence, so Brees’ thumb injury might end up turning out to be a blessing in disguise if it leaves him more fresh down the stretch. New Orleans picked up a big win on the road against Chicago Sunday, and their defense is playing lights out.
  • Speaking of NFC South quarterbacks, Matt Ryan left the Falcons’ loss to the Rams early with an ankle injury. Ryan was in a lot of pain and in a boot after the game, but a source said “the team does not believe the injury is serious,” per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Atlanta’s season is circling the drain as they sit at 1-6 and Dan Quinn could be fired any week, so it’s quite possible they’re cautious with Ryan. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all if Matt Schaub is under center next week against Seattle.
  • Cornerback Eli Apple left the Saints’ win over the Bears with a non-contact knee injury, which understandably sparked a lot of concern. The “initial belief” is that Apple hyperextended his knee, according to Nick Underhill of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’s unclear how serious the injury is and he could certainly still miss some time, but fortunately it doesn’t sound like an ACL tear. Apple has started every game for New Orleans this season, and is a key part of their defense. This one will be important to monitor.
  • Star cornerback Darius Slay and running back Kerryon Johnson both left and were ruled out of the Lions’ loss to the Vikings. There hasn’t been much of an update on either, but Slay’s was a hamstring and Johnson’s was a knee. Slay missed one game with a hamstring injury earlier this year, so it sounds like he aggravated that. Johnson missed six games with a knee injury last season, so this is obviously troubling. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear more.

Saints To Decline Eli Apple’s Option

This will be a prove-it year for cornerback Eli Apple. The Saints will not exercise the former first-round pick’s option for 2020, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

The Saints had until Friday to exercise the 2020 option for Apple, which would have paid him $13.7MM (guaranteed for injury only) in the additional season. Given that Apple has missed time in the past, the extra year would have been a bit of a gamble.

Still, Apple has given the Saints reason to believe in his abilities. After coming over from the Giants in a midseason trade, the 23-year-old (24 in August) logged two interceptions and started in all ten of his games in New Orleans. Apple graded out as just the No. 64 ranked corner in the NFL, according to the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus, but it’s clear that the change of scenery has helped him.

For now, Apple will earn just $2.5MM in base pay for 2019, making him a solid value as a starter. If he takes another step forward in 2019, a more lucrative deal could be in his future.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Peterson, Jets, Vinatieri, Giants

Since we learned that Cardinals defensive back Patrick Peterson asked for a trade, we’ve heard that both the Eagles and Saints have inquired on the Pro Bowl cornerback. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News has a new name to add to the list of suitors: the Jets. The reporter tweets that the Jets reached out to the Cardinals about Peterson, but New York isn’t expected to pull off a trade.

There’s obviously plenty to like about the veteran, who has made it to seven-straight Pro Bowls. In seven games this season, the 28-year-old has compiled 35 tackles, three passes defended, two interceptions, and one sack. Pro Football Focus ranks Peterson fourth among 112 eligible cornerbacks.

On the flip side, the Jets may not need to overpay for the cornerback, as Pro Football Focus has been fond of Morris Claiborne and Trumaine Johnson‘s performance this season (along with top backup Darryl Roberts).

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Albert Breer of SI.com doesn’t believe the Cardinals are motivated to move Peterson, and the recent trade request won’t force their hand. The veteran is still one of the top coverage cornerbacks in the NFL, and his salary over the next two seasons doesn’t break the bank. If the team were to make a move, Breer points to the Saints and Chiefs as logical landing spots.
  • Earlier today, the Colts worked out a trio of kickers in Kai ForbathCairo Santos, and Taylor Bertolet. However, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network tweets that the team won’t be signing any of these options since they’re holding out hope that Adam Vinatieri will be ready to go for this weekend’s matchup with the Raiders. Today’s workouts were solely a contingency in case the future Hall of Famer doesn’t suit up. The 45-year-old is currently dealing with a groin injury, and it could force him to miss only his second regular season game since the beginning of 2014.
  • Despite the Giantstrade of Eli Apple earlier today, head coach Pat Shurmur wanted to make it clear that the team wasn’t giving up on this season. “We’re not throwing in the towel,” Shurmur said (via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY on Twitter). “This will give an opportunity for some young players and newer players to have an opportunity to play.” The Giants sent the cornerback to the Saints earlier today, receiving a 2019 fourth-round pick and 2020 seventh-round pick in return.
  • Shurmur was also adamant that the Giants wouldn’t be trading franchise quarterback Eli Manning. When asked if the veteran would still be on the team after the trade deadline, the head coach gave a simple answer. “Yes, I do,” he said (via Vacchiano). “I think Eli will be our quarterback. He has been, and he’ll continue to be here.” The 37-year-old has completed 69-percent of his passes for 2,061 yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions.

Giants Trade CB Eli Apple To Saints

The Giants traded cornerback Eli Apple to the Saints, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. In return, the Giants will receive a 2019 fourth-round pick in 2019 and a seventh-round pick in 2020. 

The Saints secondary now features three former Ohio State stars in Marshon Lattimore (2017 first-round cornerbacks), Apple (2016 first round cornerback) and Vonn Bell (2016 second-round safety).

The third-year cornerback was inconsistent in his first two NFL seasons, but has been playing a bit better in 2018. In his five games (all starts), Apple has five pass deflections, one forced fumble, and 22 total tackles. On the flipside, the numbers at Pro Football Focus indicate that his performance has been roughly comparable to last year. Apple is ranked as PFF’s No. 55 cornerback through seven weeks.

Many expected the Saints to explore a trade for Patrick Peterson, but that would have required a much greater expenditure of draft capital. The Saints don’t have much to offer in that regard anyway after sacrificing their 2019 first-round pick in the Marcus Davenport deal and their 2019 third-rounder in the Teddy Bridgewater trade.

In Apple, the Saints get a former No. 10 overall pick who could be a contributor with the right direction. The Giants, meanwhile, get to unload an unwanted salary over the next two years while adding assets to fuel their rebuild. With that in mind, the Giants probably aren’t done dealing and could make more moves between now and the Mischief Night deadline.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints, Eagles Could Be Aggressive At Trade Deadline

The Saints and Eagles are expected to be among the most aggressive teams in advance of the October 30 trade deadline, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who adds that the two clubs are interested in a few of the same players.

Interestingly, La Canfora writes that Philadelphia is still monitoring the trade markets for Le’Veon Bell and LeSean McCoy, though recent reports surrounding both running backs suggest that they will be staying with their current teams. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer says it would not cost much to get McCoy, despite what the Bills have been saying, but it does not seem likely that the Eagles will reunite with their former star. Instead, in keeping with previous reports, it sounds as if the Eagles are content with their running back situation, and Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that the team sees a defensive tackle, secondary help, and a field-stretching wide receiver as bigger priorities.

La Canfora also writes that the Eagles are seeking another receiving option and a quality corner, and he says the Saints are looking for upgrades at the same positions. The Raiders are said to be shopping Amari Cooper, who is probably the best wide receiver who could be had at the deadline, but Larry Fitzgerald and Emmanuel Sanders may also be in play. Meanwhile, Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, and Bradley Roby are some of the corners who have been attracting the interest of rival clubs.

The Saints are currently 4-1 and are atop the NFC South, and they are clearly in win-now mode as they hope to bring home another Lombardi Trophy before Drew Brees, 39, hangs up the cleats. The defending champion Eagles are just 3-3 but are very much alive in the wide open NFC East.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

New York Notes: Darnold, Breeland, OBJ, Apple

In the wake of Elijah McGuire‘s broken foot, the Jets signed RB George Atkinson III earlier today. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the team’s first choice was Alfred Morris, who obviously comes with considerably more experience than Atkinson (Gang Green brought Morris in for a visit yesterday). Rapoport says the two sides could not come together on contract terms, so Morris remains a free agent and Atkinson is now a Jet.

Now for more notes from the two clubs who call the Meadowlands home:

  • The Jets still have interest in free agent CB Bashaud Breeland, per ESPN’s Josina Anderson (via Twitter). There’s still no word on whether Breeland will visit with Gang Green, but a number of clubs are interested in his services. Breeland remains undecided for the time being.
  • Just yesterday, we heard that offset language was no longer the issue holding up contract negotiations between the Jets and rookie QB Sam Darnold. Instead, the latest reports suggested that how and when the guarantees in Darnold’s contract could void is the real sticking point. But Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says offset language and the guaranteed money issue are still matters that need to be resolved. Cimini does not think that the holdout will get as bad as the infamous Joey Bosa/Chargers standoff several years ago, but Darnold is in a different situation because he is a quarterback, not a defensive lineman. Every practice he misses is critical, and while there are not enough details to know which party is in the “right” in this case — though Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News opines that Darnold’s agent’s stance with respect to the offset language is ridiculous and selfish — this is fast becoming a lose-lose situation for player and team.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. has excelled in Giants training camp thus far, and he looks committed and healthy, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Raanan ends his tweet with an emphatic, “pay the man.”
  • Though it’s obviously still early in training camp, the Giants‘ offensive line has left much to be desired in summer practices thus far, as Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com writes. Dunleavy lists a few OL free agents that Big Blue might consider bringing in, and he also names Denzelle Good, who is currently fighting for a starting job with the Colts, as an interesting trade candidate.
  • After two seasons as a backup cornerback with the Titans, Curtis Riley saw an opportunity to start at free safety with the Giants, which encouraged him to sign with Big Blue in March. Thus far, his conversion to safety is going swimmingly, and Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes that Riley has a legitimate chance to win the starting FS job.
  • Giants CB Eli Apple‘s maturity issues and lack of effort have gotten him into plenty of hot water with his teammates and coaches during his first two seasons in the pros, but new head coach Pat Shurmur is impressed with Apple’s attitude and his play thus far. Shurmur said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, “I’m seeing a guy that’s all about his business. He’s very businesslike. And he’s covering really well, a really good attribute for a corner. I like the way he’s working. He’s out there challenging, but he’s also being smart. And I like the way he’s functioning in the building. Very attentive in meetings. In my mind, and based on what I’ve seen, he’s acting like a pro.”

East Notes: Smith, Pryor, Giants

Although other quarterback deals soon overshadowed this one, the Redskins made a commitment to Alex Smith. And the details of his contract have him entrenched in Washington into the next decade. Smith received a $27MM signing bonus, and his 2018 and ’19 base salaries — $13MM and $15MM, respectively — are also fully guaranteed at signing, Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington notes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, Smith’s 2020 salary ($16MM) becomes fully guaranteed, per Tandler. So, barring something crazy, the Redskins are essentially tethered to Smith for three seasons. The deal runs through 2022, but non-guaranteed base salaries of $19MM and $21MM are on tap in those respective seasons. Washington would save $13MM by cutting Smith after the 2020 slate. Smith’s contract will call for cap hits of $18.4MM (2018), $20MM (2019), $21.4MM (’20), $24.4MM (’21) and $26.4MM (’22).

Here’s the latest from the East divisions as teams sit midway through their OTA calendar.

  • Former Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has run into more injury trouble, encountering another ankle malady that’s sidelined him from Jets OTAs. But Todd Bowles said, via Calvin Watkins of Newsday, this latest issue is unrelated to the one that forced him to undergo surgery while a member of the Redskins. The Jets have a host of wide receivers under contract, and Pryor is attempting to carve out a role and rebound from his poor performance in Washington.
  • Speaking of wideouts, the Giants may not be necessarily done adding talent at that position. When asked earlier this month if the Giants had their No. 3 wide receiver on their roster, Pat Shurmur said, via Tom Rock of Newsday, “I don’t know.” This was before New York added Russell Shepard in the latter stages of free agency. But Big Blue signed Cody Latimer, and he’s been playing on the outside in that No. 3 role during OTAs, per Rock. Shepard likely represents Latimer’s top competition for this job, barring another outside hire. The Giants cut Brandon Marshall, and Dez Bryant‘s been mentioned as wanting to join this receiving contingent. They have $8.3MM in cap space.
  • Shurmur is hoping Eli Apple can rebound from what’s been a rough start to his career, and he’s not going to hold what the 2016 first-rounder did during the previous regime against him. “You hear things,” Shurmur said (via Rock) regarding Apple’s past behavior, “but I’m sure glad that I truly believe in a clean slate. He’s been nothing but professional; he’s been out here competing. He’s one of the guys that has been here almost every single day, and I haven’t seen anything that somebody might have thought I heard. He’s been greatIn terms of his stature, his skill set, yeah, he’s what you’re looking for.” The Giants cut Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and did not use a draft pick on a corner. They signed William Gay, Teddy Williams and B.W. Webb, however. But Apple could well have a promising route to a starting job despite the tumultuous 2017.