J.C. Tretter

Injury Notes: Alford, Hargrave, Jets, Tretter

Cardinals cornerback Robert Alford did indeed suffer a torn pectoral yesterday, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the injury will sideline the veteran for the 2020 season.

This is a tough outcome for both Alford and the organization. Arizona inked the defensive back to a three-year, $22.5MM deal in 2019, but Alford missed his first season with the organization after suffering a leg injury. There was optimism out of the Cardinals’ camp that Alford would return to full strength in 2020, but this injury has obviously put a snag in his comeback attempt.

Alford spent the first six seasons of his career with the Falcons, collecting 303 tackles and 10 interceptions in 88 games (76 appearance). The veteran also appeared in five playoff games for Atlanta, and he had had a pick-six on Tom Brady during the Falcons’ Super Bowl loss to the Patriots.

Pro Football Focus wasn’t fond of his performance during his last healthy campaign in 2018, so this could realistically be the end for the 31-year-old.

Let’s check out some more injury updates from around the NFL…

  • The Eagles got some good news today, as they learned that defensive tackle Javon Hargrave suffered only a “minor pectoral strain” (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter). The injury is expected to sideline the veteran for only a few weeks. The 27-year-old inked a three-year, $39MM deal with Philly this past offseason after compiling 60 tackles and four sacks with the Steelers in 2019. When he’s back to full health, he’ll join Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson to form one of the top defensive tackle groupings in the NFL
  • Jets wideout Vyncint Smith will miss the next five to eight weeks as he recovers from a core-muscle injury, tweets ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The 24-year-old got into 13 games (four starts) for New York last season, hauling in 17 receptions for 225 yards. As Cimini notes, the organization could be scrambling for receiver depth, as Josh Doctson has opted out of the upcoming season and rookie Denzel Mims is sidelined with a hamstring injury.
  • Browns center J.C. Tretter underwent a minor knee procedure and will miss the next few weeks, reports Rapoport (via Twitter). The veteran opted for the procedure to clean up loose bodies and remedy discomfort. The NFLPA President has spent the past three seasons with Cleveland, starting each of the team’s 48 games.

De Smith, J.C. Tretter On COVID-19 Latest

Union chief DeMaurice Smith and president J.C. Tretter held a conference call with media members today, during which they discussed various COVID-19 issues.

Starting on the financial side of things, Smith told reporters that the salary cap could decrease by as much as $70MM in 2021, unless the union and league come up with a solution to spread out that damage over several years (Twitter link via Dan Graziano of ESPN.com). Obviously, the union would prefer the latter option, and it has summarily rejected the NFL’s most recent economic proposals. Smith said he does not want players to bear the brunt of the financial burden when they are also the ones exposing themselves to the virus (Twitter link via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area).

Of course, the league has made the decision to start training camp on time, and Smith concedes that the union has no ability to fight that. Instead, the NFLPA’s objective is to ensure that the players are as safe as possible (Twitter link via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times). To that end, the union has been in touch with team doctors, who have said, with a couple of reservations, that it is safe to open camp as planned (Twitter link via Condotta).

Indeed, a source familiar with talks between the NFL and NFLPA told Mark Maske of the Washington Post that those discussions were moving in the right direction and that there was reason to believe training camp could start on time (Twitter link). As Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets, the Chiefs are telling players that camp is a go, with rookies and QBs to report for COVID-19 testing on Monday, July 20, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter) says Texans players were told the same (the Texans and Chiefs play each other in the regular season opener). The full team is scheduled to report on July 25, and Pelissero adds in a separate tweet that multiple clubs have been sending tentative reporting dates to players.

Needless to say, there is plenty that still needs to be resolved. For instance, Texans star J.J. Watt, who has been involved in player calls, said yesterday (via Twitter) that players had yet to receive a single valid Infectious Disease Emergency Response (IDER) plan, and as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, players aren’t supposed to report to camp until IDER plans have been approved. Per Graziano, “some teams” began sending to those plans to the union last night, which the union will need to review to ensure that they are in compliance with the negotiated protocols (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Tretter says that the union has consulted with team doctors in hotspot markets to discuss how to report to camp safely (Twitter link via Graziano). It’s unclear what, if any, additional protocols will be put in place for such regions, and Tretter also brought up another point that has largely been overlooked (via Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk). He said, as a center, he is in close contact with every player in the offensive huddle and every defensive lineman during practice. If he tests positive, how would the league determine how many people to quarantine, and for how long?

That is one critical unanswered question, and Smith conceded there is no firm answer as to how many positive tests it would take to force an entire team to shut down. He did emphasize that the union continues to push for daily testing, which the league is still opposing.

Smith also said he is unaware of any players who have elected to opt out of the 2020 season (Twitter link via Condotta). We covered the most recent updates on the opt-out situation earlier this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On NFL, COVID-19

While the NFL and NFLPA are reportedly close to agreeing to a set of gameday protocols that would nominally attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the two sides still haven’t officially worked out an accord regarding a training camp and preseason schedule. Let’s take a look at the latest as the league and the union work through a variety of health-related issues:

  • NFLPA president J.C. Tretter recently outlined the union’s stance on a number of items, including support for a NFL/NFLPA Joint Committee of doctors-recommended 48-day training camp schedule and the elimination of the preseason (the league prefers to keep two exhibition games in place). While the NFL didn’t publicly comment on Tretter’s piece, one source called the post “very disappointing and contrary to the sense of collaboration going back to the early days of mid-March,” tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.
  • The timing of training camp and the length of the preseason remain key issues. The NFL wanted players to report for camp earlier than the CBA allows in order to fit in a longer schedule, but the union has declined to do so, per Pelissero (Twitter link).
  • The aforementioned Joint Committee recommended one-to-two preseason games, but the league is still standing firm on zero exhibition games, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Appearing on WEEI, NFLPA senior director of player affairs Don Davis questioned why two preseason games would be any safer than four. A source tells Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that preseason contests are likely to be used a bargaining chip.
  • Amidst the ongoing pandemic, a number of clubs have proactively announced that games will feature limited capacity seating. Of course, those teams are assuming that fans will be allowed to attend contests at all, which is far from a given at this point. So far, the Packers, Chiefs, and Ravens have each announced plans for reduced capacities.

NFLPA Elects J.C. Tretter As President

The NFL Players’ Association has elected J.C. Tretter as its new president, the union announced on Tuesday. Last week, Tretter was one of four players nominated for the position. Now, he’ll spearhead the NFLPA during a critical stretch in the CBA talks. 

Last week, NFLPA’s presidential race came down to Russell Okung, Michael Thomas (of the Giants), Sam Acho, and Tretter. Okung has been lobbying for the job for months, but he backed out of the running this week and put his support behind Thomas.

Tretter, a center for the Browns, will take over for Eric Winston, who has served as the union prez since 2014. There will be little time for on-the-job training: The NFLPA has until Saturday to vote on the proposed CBA and travel hazards associated with the coronavirus scare may complicate things further. Meanwhile, we’re also just days away from the official start of NFL free agency.

If more than 50% of players vote against the CBA, the 2020 season will be played under the current CBA, which was established in 2011. That CBA expires in March 2021. If the proposed CBA is not ratified, we’ll be looking at increased odds of a strike or lockout next year.

In the last round of voting, Thomas and Okung both voted against the CBA, Acho voted in favor of it, and, in the immediate aftermath, no one knew Tretter’s take. But, on Tuesday, PFT’s Mike Florio (via Twitter) reported that Tretter voted in favor of the CBA. With that in mind, Tretter’s election may bode well for a deal between now and Saturday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

J.C. Tretter, Michael Thomas, Sam Acho Nominated For NFLPA President

Three players will join Russell Okung in vying for the role of NFLPA president. Browns center J.C. Tretter, Giants safety Michael Thomas and Buccaneers linebacker Sam Acho have received nominations for union president, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

Okung, who unveiled his candidacy earlier this year, was also nominated Monday. Okung, Thomas and Acho are current members of the NFLPA’s executive committee. Tretter serves as the Browns’ third co-alternate union representative.

The NFLPA will elect its next president on Tuesday; the union’s board members are meeting in south Florida this week to discuss key matters. One item obviously overshadows the rest this week. Players now have until 10:59pm CT Saturday to vote on the CBA. The NFLPA voted Monday to delay the deadline for two days.

Eric Winston has served in the role since 2014, but he will cycle out of it after ending his playing career after the 2018 season. The next president may or may not be thrust into a high-stakes situation. If more than 50% of players vote against CBA ratification, the 2020 season will be played under the 2011 CBA. That CBA expires in March 2021. Players voting against the proposal will increase the prospects of a strike or lockout next year.

Of the new members, Okung and Thomas submitted “no” votes on the CBA; Acho voted “yes” on the proposal, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Tretter did not indicate which way he has voted on the owners’ offer, Pelissero adds (via Twitter). Okung has been a hard-liner against the 17-game schedule, so much so he filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against the staff of the NFLPA, Ken Belson of the New York Times reports.

Okung’s filing accuses union executive director DeMaurice Smith of forcing a union-wide CBA vote despite objections from the executive committee, Belson adds. The executive committee voted 6-5 in February not to recommend the owners’ CBA proposal, and after the Combine meeting, the executive committee was at 7-4 against recommending the CBA, Belson reports. However, the union’s 32-player board voted to send the proposal for a union-wide vote.

Should the recent Panthers trade acquisition receive the keys after the players vote down a proposal Smith and Winston championed, the league could be set for period of uncertainty over the next several months.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Sign J.C. Tretter To Extension

The Browns and center J.C. Tretter are in agreement on a three-year, $32.5MM extension, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The deal includes more than $23MM guaranteed, giving the lineman some serious security moving forward. 

Tretter, a Cornell product, has been having a strong season, even though the Browns are struggling as a whole. He currently ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 center in the NFL and routinely places as a top 10 player, per the advanced metrics.

The deal represents a solid pay bump from his last deal. The Browns inked Tretter to a three-year, $16.75MM deal in 2017, after he impressed as a versatile OL in Green Bay. The new deal more than doubles his guarantees and nearly doubles his overall haul.

Tretter and the Browns will return home on Sunday to face the Bills. Currently at 2-6, they’ll have to go on an absolute tear to get in the playoff chase.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Sign J.C. Tretter

The Browns have agreed to sign former Packers offensive lineman J.C. Tretter, reports Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). Tretter offers versatility along the line, but he will indeed serve as Cleveland’s center, per Garafolo.

It’s a three-year, $16.75MM deal for Tretter, who will see $10MM in guarantees, per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). This has been just a portion of a busy day for Browns offensive linemen.

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Cleveland is investing heavy resources on its front five on the first official day of free agency, as the club has already agreed to a long-term extension with left guard Joel Bitonio. They also signed Kevin Zeitler to a guard-record $12MM-AAV deal.

Tretter’s signing will have more wide-ranging implications for the rest of the offensive line, and could specifically signal a displeasure with former first-round pick Cameron Erving. Erving struggled during his first season as a full-time starter at the pivot, and while he could potentially move to another position (right tackle or guard), he may simply shift to the bench.

Tretter was never a permanent member of Green Bay’s offensive line during his time there, but he exceeded expectations when asked to start. In 2016, the 26-year-old graded as the No. 9 center in the league, per Pro Football Focus, and started nine games while filling in for Corey Linsley. Linsley is expected to return as the Packers’ center in 2017, leaving the club little room to play Tretter.

Tretter, a former fourth-round draft choice, ranked as PFR’s No. 6 free agent interior offensive lineman.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents

It’s free agency week! This year, thanks to the salary cap increase, the dollars will be flying and players will make more than you ever could have expected. Our lists for offense and defense rank free agents based on overall ability, but our Top 50 ranks players based on earning power. Here, you’ll get a good sense of what the market will be like this week and who the big fish are.

The league’s “legal tampering” window will open on Tuesday at 11:00am CT. Technically, teams and players aren’t permitted to finalize agreements on contracts during that legal tampering window, but that’s often treated as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. We will almost certainly see handshake agreements go down on Tuesday and Wednesday before they become official on Thursday, the technical beginning of free agency.

Our list of 2017’s top 50 free agents doesn’t include restricted free agents, or franchise tagged players, since they’re effectively restricted free agents as well.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive right in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2017, along with a few predictions on how much they might earn and what teams could be in the mix to sign them:

1. A.J. Bouye, CB (Texans): Bouye is an overnight sensation, going from unknown to elite talent in the blink of an eye. No one knows exactly what to make of Bouye, but his upside is too much for teams to pass up. The Texans declined to use the franchise tag on the 25-year-old (26 in August), but they’re still hoping to get a deal done this week. The Jets are said to have interest, but it’s not clear if they’ll have the room to get something done. Cornerback-needy teams like the Panthers, Saints, Jaguars, Titans, Bears, and Eagles can be expected to at least kick the tires on this year’s top player in the secondary. Could something like Janoris Jenkins‘ five year, $62.5MM contract ($28.8MM fully guaranteed) from last year be within reach? Jenkins had a longer history of success than Bouye, but consider these facts: Bouye nearly two years younger than Jenkins was at time of signing and the salary cap has risen by about $12MM.
Signed with Jaguars for five years, $67.5MM.A.J. Bouye (vertical)

2. Alshon Jeffery, WR (Bears): He was hurt for most of 2015 and he slumped along with the entire Bears offense in 2016, but his natural ability is still evident and he is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. At one point, it seemed like Jeffery could wind up as the league’s highest-paid wide receiver. That won’t be the case, but he will likely get more cash than any other wide receiver in this year’s class. The Eagles and Titans have been hot on his tail for some time now. The 49ers could also get involved and a return to the Bears cannot be ruled out either. Ultimately, Jeffery should wind up fetching at least $10MM per year and perhaps as much as $12MM per year on his next deal.
Signed with Eagles for one year, $9.5MM.

3. Kenny Stills, WR (Dolphins): Jeffery isn’t the only wide receiver who could fetch $12MM per year. Stills isn’t necessarily the best wide receiver on his own team, but he is just on the cusp of his 25th birthday and his ability to stretch the field is tantalizing. It doesn’t sound like the Dolphins are ready to be the highest bidder for his services and it’s not hard to imagine a team like the Eagles landing him. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the potential suitors for Jeffery and Stills: the Eagles, Titans, Bears, and 49ers will probably come calling. The Rams may not have enough room to squeeze in Stills, but they could certainly use a playmaker like him if they do not re-sign Kenny Britt. Stills reportedly likes the West Coast (who doesn’t?) so the Niners and Rams could have a leg up on the others if the bidding is close.
Re-signed with Dolphins for four years, $32MM.

4. Dont’a Hightower, LB (Patriots): The market is capped for non-rush linebackers, but Hightower is pretty much the best at what he does and is also lauded for his intangibles. The Patriots have always embraced the “next man up” philosophy, so it is possible they will allow him to go elsewhere. The Dolphins have been frequently connected to Hightower, but that might be too ambitious for a team that has multiple major needs to address. The Colts might also make sense, but the price might be too rich for their blood. A Patriots return appears to be the most likely outcome, but anything is possible.
Re-signed with Patriots for four years, $35.5MM. 

5. Kevin Zeitler, G (Bengals): Zeitler has age on his side and he’s one of the safest free agents in the top ten after three consecutive years of dominance. Interior offensive linemen don’t get as much love as their counterparts on the outside, but they are still incredibly vital and Zeitler’s next contract will reflect that. If he doesn’t circle back to the Bengals, the Jaguars, Cardinals, Packers, and Seahawks all make varying degrees of sense for Zeitler. From a football standpoint, you can add the Jets to that group too, but I’m not sure they can meet a ~$12MM/year asking price.
Signed with Browns for five years, $60MM.

6. Logan Ryan, CB (Patriots): There are bigger names available at the cornerback position, but Ryan slots ahead of many of them after a career year. It also doesn’t hurt that this fresh-faced Super Bowl champ only just turned 26 in February. If the Patriots don’t tie him down, Ryan’s earning power could conceivably vault him past Trumaine Johnson in terms of guaranteed cash. The Jaguars and Titans would be wise to zero in on Ryan if they can’t land Bouye and it’s possible that some of their evaluators might even prefer Ryan over the Houston standout. Ryan’s next deal will probably pay him eight figures per year and it should be a lengthy pact.
Signed with Titans for three years, $30MM.

7. Terrelle Pryor, WR (Browns): There is strong mutual interest in a new deal between Pryor and the Browns. Still, the Browns passed on the opportunity to franchise tag the Ohio State product and he now appears poised to test the open market. With pretty much just one year to show, how will Pryor fare in free agency? His next deal should pay him at least $10MM/year and he could get up to $12MM/year. In addition to the Browns, the usual suspects for this year’s high-end WRs will explore signing Pryor (say it with me): Eagles, Titans, and 49ers. There’s conflicting word about whether the Steelers will get involved. The Giants are known to have interest, but I don’t think they’ll be splurging on free agents like they did one year ago.
Signed with Redskins for one year, $6MM.

8 .Ricky Wagner, OT (Ravens): There’s already talk of Wagner fetching around $10MM/year and it’s not like this year’s free agent market is flush with young, quality tackles. When you also consider the lack of quality tackles in the draft, it’s apparent that Wagner is about to get PAID, in all caps.Believe it or not, $10MM/year might be his floor. When all is said and done, he’ll be the league’s biggest earner at right tackle. The Bears are particularly interested in Wagner, so he could go from the AFC North to the NFC North this week.
Signed with Lions for five years, $47.5MM.

Calais Campbell (vertical)9. Calais Campbell, DL (Cardinals): Campbell was supposed to be an afterthought in Arizona after the addition of Chandler Jones. Perhaps motivated by a perceived slight, Campbell turned in a stellar year. Now, the Cardinals would very much like to keep him, but they can only go so far as they back up the Brinks truck for Jones and look into retaining other key free agents. If Jones does not agree to a cap-smoothing long-term deal between now and March 9th, the odds of Campbell leaving increase. The Jaguars are said to be a leading contender for Campbell while the Titans, Broncos, Colts, and Bears could also use a force like him. His age (31 in September) gives him a bit of a ceiling in terms of overall compensation, but he should still do nicely this month.
Signed with Jaguars for four years, $60MM.

10. Stephon Gilmore, CB (Bills): In terms of pure talent, Gilmore might be the best cornerback available. Trouble is, no one knows what to make of him after a down 2016. Some have openly theorized that Gilmore was playing it safe to avoid injury in his pivotal contract year. It’s also possible that Buffalo’s injuries in the front seven put undue stress on the secondary. The Bears are reportedly high on Gilmore and he may represent a cheaper option than Bouye or Ryan. A Bills return would also make sense here.
Signed with Patriots for five years, $65MM.

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Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Offense

NFL free agency is right around the corner! The legal tampering period starts on Tuesday and free agency officially starts on Thursday. The list of available free agents will change between now and then as players re-sign with teams or get cut loose, but we have a pretty good idea of who will be available right now. After looking at the top defensive players, we now shift our attention to the other side of the ball.

Here are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each position. The rankings aren’t determined by earning power, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with a combination of short- and long-term value taken into account. You won’t find restricted free agents or franchise tagged guys here since they are unlikely to go leave their current clubs.

Player evaluation is always subjective, so we encourage you to make your voices heard in the comments section in cases where you disagree with us.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Updated 3-7-2017, 2:55pm CT

Quarterback:

  1. Mike Glennon
  2. Nick Foles
  3. Brian Hoyer (story)
  4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  5. Colin Kaepernick
  6. Josh McCown
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Christian Ponder
  12. Blaine Gabbert
  13. Geno Smith
  14. Matt Schaub (story)
  15. EJ Manuel

Honorable mention: Ryan Nassib, Landry JonesShaun Hill Mike Glennon (vertical)

Colin Kaepernick’s agents have (wisely) let everyone know that their client will stand for the National Anthem in 2017. That may seem like a minor point, but teams say they would have automatically removed him from consideration if he continued his attention-grabbing protest. He grabbed headlines for his actions on the sidelines last year, but he actually turned in an OK season. From a football standpoint, Kaepernick would make sense for a lot of teams as a QB2 with upside.

Interestingly, this list includes three quarterbacks who couldn’t cut it as the Jets’ starter and three rejects from the 49ers. They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all six of those players (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kaepernick, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert) come with varying degrees of potential and proven effectiveness. Smith, somehow, could reportedly be retained by the Jets and installed as the starter in 2017.

Ryan Nassib is just outside of the top 15 here with EJ Manuel getting the final spot. Despite positive word about his play in practice, Nassib is unproven and the Giants’ apparent lack of interest in re-signing him says a lot. It’s also possible that he might not be 100% after ending the 2016 season on IR with an elbow injury. Manuel, for all his warts, has shown potential in small bursts.

Running back:

  1. Eddie Lacy
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Jamaal Charles
  6. Darren McFadden
  7. Jacquizz Rodgers
  8. Rex Burkhead
  9. Rashad Jennings
  10. Danny Woodhead
  11. Tim Hightower
  12. DeAngelo Williams
  13. Andre Ellington
  14. Chris Johnson
  15. Christine Michael

Honorable mention: Robert Turbin, Travaris Cadet, Benny Cunningham, Lance Dunbar, Bobby Rainey, Brandon BoldenDenard Robinson, James Starks

Adrian Peterson (vertical)As expected, the Vikings have cut Adrian Peterson loose and he is expected to garner interest from contending clubs this week. Some might peg Peterson as the most talented running back in this year’s free agent class, but it all comes down to how you weigh his age and injury history. Peterson has shocked the football world in the past with an incredible comeback, but I’m a little skeptical of his ability to do it again in his age-32 season. Eddie Lacy, who has injury question marks of his own, takes the top spot at the position.

The Patriots believe they won’t be able to match the offers that come in LeGarrette Blount‘s direction. Latavius Murray could circle back to the Raiders, but he won’t be agreeing to a deal with them before free agency opens on Thursday.

Jamaal Charles has the most impressive resume of anyone on this list, with the exception of Peterson. However, no one knows exactly what he can do after playing eight games in the last two years. He’ll turn 31 in December and that’s usually not an indicator of success for running backs.

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NFC North Notes: Munnerlyn, Lions, Hyde

Captain Munnerlyn will be 29 before the 2017 season begins, but the veteran slot cornerback does not have a medium-length contract on his mind. The Vikings free agent is seeking a long-term pact and a raise.

I’m looking for a four- or five-year deal; just somewhere I can finish my career at, and go from there,” Munnerlyn said, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I don’t want a one- or two-year deal. I definitely don’t want to do that. I want to get something longer, so I can settle in and see if I want to make [Minnesota] my home.

Munnerlyn finished a three-year, $12.2MM Vikings deal and received more slot reps than almost any corner in football during that span. Using the cap’s increase to $167MM behind the reasoning, Munnerlyn is targeting a raise from the $4.2MM base salary he earned in 2016. Two of his agents were scheduled to meet with Vikings executive vice president Rob Brzezinski on Friday. Munnerlyn joins the likes of A.J. Bouye, Stephon Gilmore, Morris Claiborne and others on the cornerback market.

Here’s more from the NFC North on Combine Saturday.

  • The Lions are open to discussing an extension with Eric Ebron, but Bob Quinn said (via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com) that conversation won’t occur for months. Detroit has Ebron’s fifth-year option decision due in early May. Ebron is due $3.9MM in 2017, and Meinke notes Quinn’s recent comments on the tight end suggest he is genuinely interested in keeping him in the Motor City long-term. Ebron could see a bigger role in ’17 if the Lions don’t bring back Anquan Boldin. The 23-year-old tight end set career highs in receptions (61) and yards (711) last season despite playing in just 13 games.
  • Recipient of an extension that hasn’t benefited the Lions, DeAndre Levy has yet to be approached about a pay cut or restructure, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com notes. This course of action may be coming this offseason after Levy’s last two years of work — just 21 tackles and six games played since signing that four-year, $33.74MM extension — but it hasn’t yet. And Quinn expects Levy to return in 2017, although that decision isn’t final yet. As a result of Levy’s injury issues, linebacker is a glaring need for the Lions going into free agency.
  • Packers contract negotiator Russ Ball met with Micah Hyde‘s agent on Friday at the Combine, ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky reports. ESPN confirmed Ball met with the agents of Packers UFAs Eddie Lacy, Jared Cook, T.J. Lang and J.C. Tretter. However, Lang has already said he won’t sign before free agency commences. Green Bay isn’t likely to retain Tretter, either. Hyde said he would love to stay in Green Bay, identifying it as the best place for him, but hasn’t heard much from the team this offseason about a reunion.