J.R. Sweezy

West Notes: Broncos, Raiders, Seahawks

One team that will likely be undergoing a lot of change this offseason is the Broncos. Vance Joseph seems almost certain to be fired at the end of the season, and the shakeup will likely go well beyond the coaching staff. John Elway will have decisions to make about a lot of the roster, including quarterback Case Keenum, and there will be some tough calls. To preview the tumultuous offseason ahead, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic took a look at the roster and projected who is likely to be gone in 2019.

We’ve already known that outside linebacker Shane Ray and safety Su’a Cravens are extremely unlikely to be back in a Broncos uniform next year, and Jhabvala thinks several other big name defenders are in danger as well. She writes that cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Brandon Marshall, both starters the last few seasons, are both unlikely to be brought back. Jhabvala notes that the team traded Aqib Talib this past offseason because they were confident Roby was ready for a bigger role, but they’ve since soured on the 2015 first round pick. Among other players Jhabvala lists as being in danger are center Matt Paradis, who she thinks might be priced out of the Broncos’ range, and guard Max Garcia, who had already been demoted before tearing his ACL earlier this year.

Here’s more from the league’s western divisions:

  • The Raiders are still looking to upgrade their secondary, but they now view third year safety Karl Joseph as a building block for the future, according to Scott Bair of NBC Sports. Bair writes that the team was shopping the 2016 first round pick at the trade deadline, but is now “happy they didn’t deal him” because of his play the second half of the season. The West Virginia alum has received very good marks from Pro Football Focus, especially recently, and has been a large part of Oakland’s recent resurgence.
  • The Seahawks clinched a playoff berth with their huge win over the Chiefs last Sunday night, and got even more good news this week. Starting guard J.R. Sweezy suffered what initially appeared to be a serious foot injury, but coach Pete Carroll said he thinks Sweezy will be able to play in the first round of the playoffs (Twitter link via Brady Henderson of ESPN). Sweezy has started every game this year for Seattle’s reborn offensive line, and while Carroll is notoriously overly optimistic when diagnosing injuries, this is still good news.
  • Speaking of the Seahawks, their defensive tackle Shamar Stephen “is closing in on a significant incentive bonus”, according to Henderson. Stephen is due a $500K bonus if he plays between 45 and 49.99 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps, or $700K if he plays between 50-54.99 percent. Stephen is currently playing 50.16% of their defensive snaps entering their Week 17 game, so he’s on track to hit it. Considering Stephen’s base salary this year was only $800K, this would be a massive bonus for him to reach.

Contract Details: Titans, Vaccaro, Eagles

Kenny Vaccaro’s one-year deal with the Titans includes no guarantees, but his base salary will be locked in if he’s on the Week 1 roster, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Between the $100K bonus he’ll also receive in Week 1 and other bonuses, Vaccaro can earn up to $2.75MM with Tennessee.

It’s a far cry from what Vaccaro likely expected in March, but it’s not a bad deal considering the way the free agent safety market played out this offseason. Vaccaro will turn 28 next February, so he could be in line for a solid multi-year deal if he plays well in Johnathan Cyprien‘s absence.

Here’s a look at details on other recent contracts, courtesy of Pelissero:

Seahawks Sign G J.R. Sweezy

The Seahawks have signed guard J.R. Sweezy, according to a team announcement. To make room, the club waived guard Avery Young with an injury designation. 

The deal brings Sweezy back to the team that drafted him six years ago. A seventh-round pick out of N.C. State in 2012, Sweezy spent his first four seasons in Seattle before signing with the Bucs as a free agent in 2016. That deal was terminated this summer after two injury-plagued seasons with Tampa Bay.

The 29-year-old guard started all 14 games he played for the Bucs last season, though he was less than 100% healthy. Pro Football Focus rated Sweezy as its No. 53 guard in 2017.

The Seahawks can use all the help they can get on the offensive line, so it makes sense for them to kick the tires on Sweezy and see where he stands in his rehab from a broken leg. For now, the Seahawks project to start 2017 second-round pick Ethan Pocic and free agent pickup D.J. Fluker at the guard positions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Pats, Seahawks, Texans, Giants

Although there was some mystery as to what substance caused Patriots wideout Julian Edelman to face a four-game performance-enhancing drug suspension, he didn’t question the results of the test itself in his appeal, tweets Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. Instead, Edelman centered the appeal around the paperwork and documentation surrounding his failed test. In the end, the actual substance that triggered Edelman’s failed test doesn’t matter, as the NFL has the authority to ban players who test positive for unrecognizable substances. Edelman’s appeal was denied today, meaning he’ll miss the first quarter of New England’s 2018 campaign.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • While offensive guard J.R. Sweezy met with the Seahawks earlier this week, a signing may not occur any time soon, per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Sweezy was earning $6.5MM annually on his contract with the Buccaneers, and given that he won’t earn anything close to that amount with Seattle, the veteran lineman could choose to wait for a better opportunity. The Seahawks, for their part, don’t need to rush, either, according to Condotta: Seattle’s offensive line is mostly set, and while Sweezy would offer familiarity after spending the 2012-14 seasons with the Seahawks, the club could give reps to its younger linemen before inking Sweezy down the road.
  • Given that starter C.J. Fiedorowicz was forced to retire earlier this year following a series of concussions, the Texans are hoping a “collective effort” will be able to replace his production at the position. “It’s was unfortunate that C.J. Fiedorowicz had to retire but we’ve been very fortunate having a good room, having a bunch of guys come to work, coming to get better,” Texans tight ends coach Tim Kelly told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “Really taking the coaching. I’m fortunate to have those guys in there and really coming in and working hard.” Ryan Griffin looks like the early favorite to start if only due to his experience (six seasons), but Stephen Anderson, rookies Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas, MyCole Pruitt, Matt Lengel, and others could also chip in.
  • Giants third-round defensive lineman B.J. Hill could become an immediate starter, according to Matt Lombardo of NJ.com. As of now, Hill is penciled one of New York’s starting defensive ends opposite Dalvin Tomlinson. The Giants are switching to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator James Bettcher, but one of Bettcher’s hand-picked additions — ex-Cardinals defender Josh Mauro — is suspended for the first quarter of the 2018 season. While Mauro could certainly reclaim a starting spot when he returns, Hill could use the first quarter of the year to run with the job.

Seahawks Meet With J.R. Sweezy

The Seahawks are meeting with guard J.R. Sweezy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Sweezy is taking a physical with the team, which may signal that Seattle is serious about signing him. 

Sweezy entered the league as a seventh-round pick of the Seahawks in 2012. They converted Sweezy from the interior defensive line to the interior offensive line and he went on to start in 49 games for the Seahawks over four seasons, including the team’s Super Bowl winning-season in 2013.

In 2016, Sweezy signed a five-year deal with the Buccaneers worth $32.5MM. That deal was terminated last week after two injury-plagued seasons with Tampa Bay.

The 29-year-old guard started all 14 games he played for the Bucs last season, though he was less than 100% healthy. Pro Football Focus rated Sweezy as its No. 53 guard in 2017.

The Seahawks can use all the help they can get on the offensive line, so it makes sense for them to kick the tires on Sweezy and see where he stands in his rehab from a broken leg. For now, the Seahawks project to start 2017 second-round pick Ethan Pocic and free agent pickup D.J. Fluker at the guard positions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Sweezy, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Eagles, Barnett

Guard J.R. Sweezy was only released earlier this afternoon, but speculation is already starting about where he could be heading next. Sweezy made it just two years into the five-year, $32.5MM deal he signed back in 2016 before he was cut by the Buccaneers. Both his years with Tampa Bay were injury plagued, but the interior lineman is still a good player when healthy.

As such, Sweezy should have some suitors despite still being injured as he continues to recover from a broken bone in his leg. A reunion with his former team, the Seahawks, is something that “would make a lot of sense” writes Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). Garafolo adds that he’d be “a natural fit” and that he thinks it’s something the Seahawks will “explore.” There’s definitely some familiarity there and the Seahawks could definitely use some interior line help. It will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on this late in the offseason.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • In addition to potentially looking at Sweezy, the Seahawks “will aggressively go after pass rushers who become available as training camp begins”, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. After the trade of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril‘s injury, the Seahawks are a bit thin at pass-rusher, so it makes sense why they’d look for some help from someone who might get cut in the coming months. Their one proven pass-rusher, Frank Clark, is looking for a new contract as well.
  • The cap space freed up from Sweezy’s release could be used to extend other Buccaneers veterans, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Auman thinks the added cap room could “certainly facilitate a longterm extension” for one of Kwon Alexander, Ali Marpet, or Donovan Smith. He adds that it “would be good for Bucs to lock one of them up before the season.”
  • Defensive end Derek Barnett was listed as the Eagles player most likely to have a breakout season in 2018 by Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. Shorr-Parks writes that Barnett is the only Eagles defensive end “guaranteed to be on the roster in 2019”, and that because of that the Eagles will seek to get the 2017 first-rounder as much playing time as possible.

Buccaneers To Release J.R. Sweezy

Two years after signing J.R. Sweezy to a five-year, $32.5MM contract, the Buccaneers are planning to cut ties with the veteran guard.

The Bucs are moving on from Sweezy after two injury-plagued years, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. This will only cost the team $1.25MM in dead money, thanks in part to a 2017 restructure. Sweezy was due to make $6.5MM this season.

Sweezy missed all of the first season of his Bucs deal due to injury, and the former Seahawks starter is in the process of working his way back from a broken bone in his leg. However, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) Sweezy’s been cleared to resume football activities. He did not participate in the Buccaneers’ offseason program.

Sweezy also missed all of the 2016 season because of a back ailment, prompting the Bucs to finalize a redone contract for the one-time big free agent prize last year.

The 29-year-old guard started all 14 games he played for Tampa Bay last season. He was a steady Seattle starter from 2013-15, being a first-unit presence in both of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl appearances this decade. He’ll now venture back into free agency.

After Sweezy’s release, the Bucs are likely to hold a right guard competition between third-year blocker Caleb Benenoch and rookie third-rounder Alex Cappa, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times notes (Twitter links). Cappa taking Sweezy’s place would give the Bucs an interesting look up front. This scenario would have three small-school cogs starting for the Bucs, with Cappa being a Division II product (Humboldt State) who would join Ali Marpet (D-III Hobart) and now Ryan Jensen (D-II Colorado State-Pueblo) on Tampa Bay’s front. Benenoch started five games last season.

Marpet being moved back to guard, with Jensen coming in as the new center, makes Sweezy’s loss easier for the Buccaneers to handle. Pro Football Focus rated Sweezy as its No. 53 guard last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Place J.R. Sweezy On IR

The Buccaneers announced that they have placed guard J.R. Sweezy and linebacker Adarius Glanton on injured reserve. Glanton had surgery on his broken leg on Monday night. Sweezy, meanwhile, should be able to avoid surgery for his lower leg injury, according to head coach Dirk KoetterJ.R. Sweezy (vertical)

Sweezy signed a five-year, $32.5MM deal with the Buccaneers in 2016 but he was forced to miss all of last year with a back ailment. This year, he stayed healthy for the majority of the season until a new injury caught up with him. In April, the Bucs reworked his deal to give them some additional protection against potential health issues.

By starting in all 14 games to date, Sweezy has likely satisfied the contract escalator in his deal that will restore his base pay to $6.5MM in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Rework J.R. Sweezy’s Contract

J.R. Sweezy signed a five-year, $32.5MM deal with the Buccaneers last year but has yet to play for his new team. After the sixth-year guard missed his entire first season with the Bucs, he will move forward on a reworked contract that’s emerged as a result of the injury struggles, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com.

Originally scheduled to earn $5MM in 2017 thanks to $2.5MM base salary and a $2.5MM roster bonus, Sweezy can now take in that same total through different mechanisms. The veteran guard’s new base salary is $3.75MM, while the additional $1.25MM will have to be made up through per-game roster bonuses. He’ll earn those bonuses if he’s on the active roster, or on injured reserve with something other than a back injury

Sweezy will also see his base figures from 2018-20 slashed by $1.25MM from 2018-20. Those previously resided at $6.5MM (2018), $5.75MM (’19) and $5.75MM (’20). Although, the 28-year-old guard now has availability-based escalators in the contract that will bump up those bases. Those escalators — which are worth the same $1.25MM — are tied to a 70 percent playing-time threshold during the previous season, Yates reports.

Additionally, Yates adds that split-salary language is now included in the ensuing three years of his contract, in an effort to protect the Bucs from further missed time from the ex-Seahawks guard. Jason Licht said Sweezy was cleared at the end of last season. His return to health would stand to benefit a Buccaneers offensive front that ranked 29th in the league last season. That’s down from fifth in 2015.

While Sweezy will have a chance to earn the original amount of his contract, he’ll must overcome his troublesome back injury to do so. Sweezy missed the 2016 minicamp, training camp and the entire season due to a severe disc-related problem in his back.

This marks the second time Tampa Bay adjusted Sweezy’s contract, Yates reports, noting that the Bucs pushed back the vesting date of his 2017 base salary guarantee to April 7 instead of March 14.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Jets, Cowboys, Buccaneers

Some assorted notes from around the NFL as we wrap up this Monday evening…

  • Will the Jets wind up moving on from coach Todd Bowles? Brian Costello of the New York Post thinks it’s fair to start thinking about who Gang Green’s next coach could be. When/if that happens, Costello writes that the Jets should hire an offensive coach who has developed quarterbacks and has experience. Since Al Groh, all of the Jets’ hires have been first time hires. It’s also worth noting that every coach since Rich Kotite has been a defensive guy: Bill Parcells, Groh, Herm Edwards, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, and Bowles.
  • Cowboys tight end Geoff Swaim suffered a serious pectoral injury and will have surgery, reports Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter). The second-year player has hauled in six catches for 69 yards this season. Jon Machota of the Dallas News tweets that the team has discussed bringing in another tight end, and he notes that James Hanna is not expected to return anytime soon.
  • The Cowboys have been happy with the way tight end Rico Gathers has improved on their practice squad. However, Machota tweets that the team is unlikely to promote the sixth-round pick. Gathers, who didn’t play football in college or high school, made a name for himself as a player on the Baylor basketball team.
  • Buccaneers left guard J.R. Sweezy is still progressing from his offseason back surgery, reports ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine. Unfortunately, a source tells the reporter that the veteran is likely to finish the season on the reserve/PUP list.

Zach Links contributed to this post.