Jabrill Peppers

North Notes: Vikings, Bakhtiari, Dupree

Prior to Teddy Bridgewater‘s career-defining injury at Vikings practice two Augusts ago, Mike Zimmer assumed the 2014 first-round pick would be his quarterback for the remainder of his head-coaching tenure. But the gruesome leg injuries Bridgewater suffered eventually led him out of the Twin Cities and to the Big Apple. Now, the 62-year-old head coach envisions Kirk Cousins, attached to a three-year contract, as the quarterback for the rest of his run as Vikings HC.

I always thought Teddy was going to be my quarterback for my career and these are the way things go,” Zimmer said during a Sirius XM Radio interview. “Now, I hope that Kirk is the quarterback for my career … and it’s long, too. Not one year.”

Zimmer expanded a bit on what drew him to Cousins, though Minnesota certainly wasn’t alone in the rare pursuit of a franchise-level quarterback on the market. But the Vikings weren’t viewed as the obvious choice from the outset, given Case Keenum‘s success in 2017.

Part of it was his accuracy,” Zimmer said of the Cousins pursuit during the interview. “He threw the ball into a lot of tight windows, and we’re seeing that here in camp. Very consistent in the things he was able to do. So I think that was part of it. You know, not too many times is a quarterback that’s really entering his prime at 28 (Cousins turns 30 later this month) get out on the free agency market that’s thrown for 4,000 (yards) for three straight years. I think he’s my fifth quarterback in five years, so I’m hoping we’ve stabilized the quarterback position.”

Here’s the latest from a Vikings rival and the AFC North.

  • The Packers received a scare when a cart transported cornerstone left tackle David Bakhtiari from the practice field Saturday night, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (on Twitter) Bakhtiari suffered a sprained left ankle. He won’t return to action immediately, but at this point, it doesn’t look like the sixth-year lineman will miss regular-season time.
  • Bud Dupree suffered a setback this weekend and is in concussion protocol, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). The Steelers will be without their starting right outside linebacker for a bit, per Fowler, after seeing the fourth-year player start camp strong. Anthony Chickillo and Keion Adams reside as the top backups, per Pittsburgh’s first 2018 depth chart, and will see more time while Dupree is sidelined. Adams was a 2017 seventh-round pick who did not play last season.
  • Jabrill Peppers kept his starting spot after the Browns released their first depth chart, but Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets the battle between the 2017 first-rounder and Derrick Kindred is not over. Both continue to receive first-team reps opposite Damarious Randall, and Ulrich adds each will play plenty in three-safety looks this season (Twitter link). It would, however, be notable if Peppers couldn’t keep his starting job considering what the Browns invested in him. A 2016 fourth-rounder, Kindred’s started 15 NFL games.

North Notes: Vikes, Browns, Ravens, Sutton

At Vikings OTAs this week, they placed Mike Remmers back at right tackle, per Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Remmers finished last season playing guard, and the Vikings used a second-round pick on tackle Brian O’Neill out of Pittsburgh. Minnesota had UFA signee Tom Compton working as its first-string right guard during OTAs, per Rand. Compton has never been a full-time starter in his six-year career, coming closest with the 2014 Redskins, who used him as a nine-game starter. Last season, the Bears started Compton in five of the 11 games he played. Minnesota lost its most effective blocker, Joe Berger, to retirement and did not make any notable additions beyond Compton at the guard spot.

Here’s more from the north:

  • The Browns have made some adjustments to their front office and scouting department, and Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com expects that to continue. She targets the VP of player personnel decision as a possible turnover spot. Alonzo Highsmith, Ken Kovash and Andrew Berry currently reside in that role. John Dorsey just hired Highsmith, and Cabot reports Berry is safe from a change despite being an integral part of the previous regime. The Browns promoted Kovash shortly after the Sashi Brown regime took over in 2016 after he’d previously worked as the franchise’s director of football research.
  • Converted cornerback Damarious Randall will be the Browns’ starter at free safety this season, relocating Jabrill Peppers to strong safety, per Cabot. Gregg Williams‘ deep placement of Peppers, sometimes more than 25 yards off the ball, became a constant source of discussion and derision among Browns fans, and Peppers himself may be a bit tired of the jokes. But the Browns will now place him closer to the line of scrimmage, which is similar to the role he had at Michigan.
  • Optimism exists around Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, who saw a strong season end early in 2017 because of a torn Achilles, but Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun notes the veteran may not be ready for the start of training camp. The career-long Raven is going into his age-30 season.
  • Additional Ravens’ timelines are coming into focus as well. Defensive lineman Carl Davis, who started nine games last season, underwent surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder earlier this offseason, Zreibec reports. The former third-round pick is questionable to participate in minicamp. Offensive lineman Nico Siragusa also had an operation this offseason. The 2017 fourth-round pick missed all of last season because of ACL, MCL and PCL tears and required an additional knee surgery this year. Zreibec reports the goal for him is a training camp return. As for Alex Lewis, Baltimore’s projected guard starter opposite Marshal Yanda, he’s fully recovered from the shoulder injury that nixed all of his 2017 season, Zreibec notes.
  • The Steelers aren’t sure where to station Cameron Sutton. The 2017 third-round pick played 117 snaps as a rookie after an injury delayed his NFL debut. Pittsburgh may be planning to use him at outside or slot cornerback, or as a safety alongside Morgan Burnett, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. But he notes that Artie Burns and Sean Davis will still have first crack at their respective jobs, outside cornerback and the non-Burnett safety starter, with the Steelers still hoping for the high draft picks’ upside to show. Mike Hilton remains the frontrunner to be the Steelers’ slot corner, where the former UDFA fared well in 2017.

Extra Points: Gronk, Eli, Barber, Peppers

Although the result of the Patriots-Bills game this afternoon was an expected New England victory, something rather surprising did happen during the fourth quarter of the contest. Up handily by 20 points, Tom Brady threw an interception to cornerback Tre’Davious White. However, when the rookie fell down after his return, tight end Rob Gronkowski clearly hit him in the head while he was just face down on the turf. Gronk was not thrown out because of his malicious action, but Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com was surprised he wasn’t and thinks further punishment could be coming for the star tight end.

Seifert points out in his piece that former NFL referee Dean Blandino said that Gronkowski should have been ejected for the hit and that he could “maybe” be in-line to miss game action for the incident.

The NFL will review the situation over the next 24 hours and see what type or if any discipline is needed. Gronkowski clearly lowered his shoulder into White well after the play was over, seeming upset that the 2017 first rounder picked off Brady in his direction. However, Seifert notes that the 28-year-old doesn’t really have a track record of misbehaving on the field, despite some minor incidents. The league will also take into account that Gronkowski apologized immediately after the game.

While the NFL did levy two-game suspensions to Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree this past week, this situation is clearly different given that there was no history of bad blood between the two players, Though, it’s clear that the Pats All-pro was in the wrong and could miss time or at least get heavily fined because of his actions on the field today.

  • Despite being benched for the remainder of the regular season, Eli Manning remained rather unequivocal when asked if he will suit up for another year in the league, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com“I plan on playing next season,” Manning said twice Sunday after the Giants‘ 24-17 loss to the Raiders. It’s more likely that the veteran signal caller won’t be back with the Giants after what’s transpired this past week. However, that doesn’t mean Manning won’t have his suitors. While he may be 37 years old heading into next season, the two-time Super Bowl winning QB should garner interest from a host of quarterback needy teams. Manning is clearly not the player he once was, but with the need at the position still so high around the league, his track record is tough to come by on the open market. He’s under contract with New York for 2018-19, but the front office could trade him at some point in the offseason or release him before March 18, 2018, when he is due a $5MM roster bonus.
  • The Buccaneers lost their eighth game of the season when the Packers were able to seal the contest in overtime, but running back Peyton Barber was a major bright spot for the team, opines Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders. With Doug Martin out due to a concussion, the 23-year-old back carried the ball 23 times for 102 yards. Cummings points out that it was the team’s first 100 yard rushing effort from a tailback since late last season. In his second year since being undrafted out of Auburn, Barber’s performance on Sunday likely earned himself some more chances to impress in the final four weeks of the regular season.
  • Browns rookie safety Jabrill Peppers injured his knee in the team’s game against the Chargers this afternoon, according to Pat McManamon of ESPN.com. Head coach Hue Jackson said that the first round pick will get an MRI tomorrow in order to assess just how serious the injury is. Cleveland has backup safeties Derron Smith and Kai Nacua should Peppers need to miss time.

Browns, Jabrill Peppers Agree To Terms

The Browns and safety Jabrill Peppers agreed to terms on a customary four-year rookie contract, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Cleveland now has its three first-rounders and entire draft class locked up.

It’s a $10.3MM deal with a signing bonus of approximately $5.6MM, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports, adding Peppers signed the contract.

There are now only three unsigned first round picks from this draft class — 49ers defensive end Solomon Thomas, Titans wide receiver Corey Davis and Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley. Raiders second round pick Obi Melifonwu also remains unsigned.

Guaranteed money was an issue between the Browns and the No. 25 overall pick, and Cabot specifies the holdup came from the guarantees in Year 4 of the deal, but Peppers’ camp has since found the terms agreeable. The Michigan product is signed before the Browns broke for camp. Cleveland begins its camp practice sessions on Thursday.

Peppers is expected to compete immediately for a starting job. The Browns did not have much in the way of safety depth prior to the draft. Now, they have Peppers and former Jets first-rounder Calvin Pryor in the fold.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns, Jabrill Peppers

Browns first rounder Jabrill Peppers is still without a contract. One of the primary reasons for that is because the two sides are still negotiating over the amount of guaranteed money in the deal, a league source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football RumorsJabrill Peppers (vertical)

[RELATED: Latest On Raiders’ Gareon Conley]

It might be easier for a deal to come together if Gareon Conley, the Raiders’ first round pick at No. 24, had his deal done. Without direct comps on either side of the Michigan product, there is a lot open to interpretation. Giants tight end Evan Engram (No. 23 overall) has a $1.55MM guarantee for his fourth season. Meanwhile, at No. 26, Falcons defensive end Takkarist McKinley is guaranteed just $900K. Peppers’ reps are probably pushing for something close to Engram’s fourth-year guarantee while the Browns see McKinley as the better comp.

Florio notes that last year’s No. 25 overall pick, Steelers cornerback Artie Burns, received an $800K roster bonus due on the third day of training camp in his fourth year in lieu of a partial guarantee. Peppers, based on that precedent, could be pushing for the same thing.

There are still seven unsigned first round picks as of this writing with five of those players in the top 10.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Browns, Broncos, Patriots, Jags

Jabrill Peppers is one of only 11 2017 draft choices who has yet to sign his rookie deal, and offset language is likely to blame for the contractual holdup with the Browns, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes. Offset language, as a reminder, can allow a player to “double dip” if he’s waived by his original club, as it enables him to collect a salary from a new team without that total being offset. Neither of Cleveland’s other two first-round picks — defensive end Myles Garrett and tight end David Njoku — were able to remove offset language from their deals, so the Browns are likely attempting to maintain precedent with Peppers.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch is now in a better position to challenge Trevor Siemian for the Broncos‘ starting job after an exemplary performance during the final two weeks of Denver’s offseason program, according to Mike Klis of 9News. Per Klis, while Lynch can’t be considered to have “overtaken” Siemian just yet, a “switch flipped” for the 2016 first-round selection. “Yeah, I mean the more reps I’m getting with these guys, the more I get to go against the defense and see the looks live compared to just on paper, it’s helping me a lot,’’ Lynch said. “I think each practice I’ve progressively got better.’’
  • New signee David Harris is nearly a lock to make the Patriots‘ roster after agreeing to a two-year, $5MM deal last week, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com explains in a pair of articles. More of a luxury addition than a need-based signing, Harris is likely to play in base formations alongside fellow linebacker Dont’a Hightower. The former Jet can also serve as insurance for Hightower, who hasn’t played a full 16-game slate since 2013. Meanwhile, Harris’ signing doesn’t figure to materially affect the role of other New England ‘backers such as Shea McClellin, who will still be working primarily in the passing game.
  • If Blake Bortles struggles to begin the 2017 season, the Jaguars could choose to employ the Robert Griffin III treatment: pluck Bortles on the bench so an injury doesn’t require the club to pay its quarterback nearly $20MM in 2018 under the terms of his fifth-year option, per Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. Fifth-year options are guaranteed for injury only, meaning Jacksonville could cut Bortles before the 2018 league year unless he can’t pass a physical. Washington didn’t allow RG3 to see the field in 2015 for fear that an injury would cost it significant money.

AFC Rumors: Patriots, Johnson, Browns

An interesting what-if scenario emerged after the Patriots signed center David Andrews to a three-year extension. The UDFA success story, though, may have seen his Patriots path unfold differently if the team’s most recent draft had gone in another direction. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports the Pats came close to drafting Indiana interior lineman Dan Feeney in the third round, but the Chargers stepped in and made the decision to bring the ex-Hoosiers blocker to Los Angeles with the No. 71 overall pick. New England, which held the No. 72 choice, then traded down and ended up selecting Youngstown State defensive end Derek Rivers at No. 83. Reiss notes Andrews’ three-year extension may not have come to fruition if Feeney was in the fold.

Here’s more from the AFC.

  • More from the defending champions: their recent extension for Super Bowl hero James White comes with some incentives that may be difficult to reach. White’s three-year, $12MM extension can max out at $15MM via playing-time and accomplishment bumps. White can earn $250K extra per season by playing in 50 percent of the Pats’ offensive snaps, with another $250K available to him if he suits up for 60 percent of their plays, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports. Should White gain 1,000 total yards in a season, he would earn a $250K bonus. Another $250K would come his way if he gains 1,200 yards in a campaign. However, the 25-year-old Wisconsin product amassed a career-high 717 yards from scrimmage last season — one that mostly didn’t feature a healthy Dion Lewis. Plus, the Pats brought in Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead this offseason and could still have LeGarrette Blount in the fold after being the first team in 17 years to use the May 9 tender. White has maxed out at 38 percent of the Pats’ plays, so eclipsing 50 or 60 percent will be difficult going forward.
  • A training camp return remains the goal for 13th-year Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson. The inside ‘backer said Sunday from a NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway, per Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star, he’s still on track to be ready by camp. “I’ll go back Texas after we break OTAs, get my body right,” the 34-year-old Johnson said. “That’s the plan. Be ready for camp.” Johnson has now suffered two severe Achilles injuries in a three-season period. The Chiefs did not draft a linebacker until Round 5 (Ukeme Eligwe out of Georgia Southern), and although Johnson accepted a paycut this offseason, the Chiefs are still counting on him to return to his post on their starting defense.
  • Jabrill Peppers missed the first day of Browns rookie minicamp by not signing a participation waiver, which lets rookies practice without having signed their contract. The rookie safety could not be drug tested until he did. However, the Michigan product did sign it and joined his first-year peers on Saturday and said the delay did not stem from any attempt to avoid a drug test. “I don’t know why you think of me like that, but everyone is entitled to an opinion,” Peppers said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Peppers will enter Stage 1 of the NFL’s drug program after a diluted sample resulted in a failed drug test at the Combine.

Browns Notes: Peppers, Brantley, Gordon

Jabrill Peppers reported to Browns rookie minicamp but did not practice today because, as an unsigned player, the safety did not sign a participation waiver that would have allowed him to work out without a contract, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports. Agent Todd France urged Peppers not to sign the standard participation document, per Cabot.

Peppers encountered a setback after a diluted sample at the Combine resulted in the Michigan talent failing a drug test. By not signing this waiver, Peppers can’t yet be drug tested, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who adds this tactic is quite rare. The participation agreement goes about ensuring a player, should he get injured like Dante Fowler Jr. was two years ago during the Jaguars’ rookie minicamp, would receive the same contract he would have if an injury had not occurred. Florio notes Peppers will be in Stage 1 of the NFL’s substance-abuse program once he signs. Should Peppers fail a test on this tier of the program, he would be upgraded to Stage 2, where suspensions and the loss of game checks could loom.

Here’s more from the Cleveland area.

  • A report from a since-fired ESPN Cleveland contributor Sabrina Parr indicated Peppers was already indulging in drugs upon arriving in Cleveland. Specifically, Parr said during a radio appearance that Peppers was “on the Lean and the Molly,” the former a Codeine-fueled concoction and the latter slang for ecstasy. Peppers denied those allegations today. “Absolutely not, never in my life,” Peppers said, via Cabot. “Whatever drugs she said I’ve done, I’ve never done in my life.” Regarding the diluted sample, Peppers told media today he over-hydrated at the Combine due to a history of cramping. Browns executive VP Sashi Brown called Peppers’ mistake at the Combine “a concern” when asked about it at the Browns’ post-draft press conference.
  • A Browns rookie in facing bigger trouble, Caleb Brantley attended rookie workouts today. He has not been charged for the alleged incident where he’s been accused of striking a woman in the face and dislodging a tooth due to conflicting witness reports. The defensive tackle’s attorneys allege “several women” were verbally abusing their client — with one punching him in the mouth, Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com reports. Brantley’s attorneys say as their 22-year-old client attempted to push away the woman who struck him, his hand made contact with her face. The Browns are conducting their own investigation of the events that occurred at Gainesville, Florida, nightclub last month. Brown said after the draft the team wasn’t certain to keep the sixth-round pick, who remains mired in a legal investigation as well. “I’m looking forward to the facts coming out and the truth about what happened that night,” Brantley said today, via Ulrich. “But I can’t really speak on the legal situation.”
  • Hue Jackson said last year he was ready to move on from Josh Gordon, but Brown said earlier this offseason he was open to the embattled wideout returning. Today, Jackson was noncommittal on the still-suspended pass-catcher’s status with the Browns. “He’s not back, so I don’t even want to really get into that right now,” Jackson said, per Ulrich. “I wish Josh well, and we’ll cross all those bridges when we get there.” The 26-year-old Gordon was denied reinstatement on Thursday. He can reapply in the fall.
  • Isaiah Crowell signed his second-round RFA tender this week.

Draft Rumors: Broncos, Titans, Peppers

The latest NFL Draft rumors:

  • I’d caution you to take this with a grain of salt, but that disclaimer comes with most of the draft rumblings that you’ll hear today. The Broncos have talked to the Titans about trading up to the No. 5 pick, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets. The asking price might be too rich for the Broncos, Cole notes, but it’s at least something that they’re exploring.
  • It sounds like teams are more concerned with Jabrill Peppers‘ fit in an NFL defense than his diluted urine sample at the combine, Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. His stock, apparently, remains the same as it was a few weeks ago: he could go late in the first, but it’s more likely he goes in the second round, per Pelissero.
  • In a bit of a surprise, Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram is making a push to sneak into the first round, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). That could lead to three tight ends being taken in the first round between Alabama’s O.J. Howard, Miami’s David Njoku, and Engram. The Giants, Falcons, and Browns are among the potential fits for him in the No. 23-33 area, Pelissero tweets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Rumors: Peppers, Redskins, Webb

A Redskins contingent including leading exec Bruce Allen worked out and had dinner with Jabrill Peppers in Ann Arbor last weekend, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), meanwhile, hears that the Redskins have explored trading into the late first round. The versatile Michigan product could be a target for them there as they seek secondary help. Some teams, meanwhile, might be shying away from Peppers after his diluted sample at the combine.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

  • Rapoport (Twitter link) wouldn’t be surprised to see a team trade back into round one for Cal’s Davis Webb. One national scout said, “He has Dak [Prescott]-like intangibles.” Some executives seem to think that four quarterbacks could be taken in the first round and it’s possible that five QBs could go inside of the first 32 picks. Webb, by and large, is considered to one of the five best QBs in this class.
  • The Bills taking a defensive player at No. 10 overall seems to be the consensus right now, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report tweets. Previously, we heard some buzz about Buffalo taking a quarterback with its top pick.
  • One connection to watch very closely is Miami tight end David Njoku and old coach Al Golden who now serves as the Lions‘ tight ends coach, Rapoport tweets. Some projections have Njoku coming off the board in the teens, so he might be gone before Detroit gets a chance to take him.