Jalen Mills

DB Rumors: Mills, Panthers, Seahawks, Colts

The Eagles moved Jalen Mills from cornerback to safety ahead of the 2020 offseason, when they re-signed him to a one-year contract. Mills began his first Patriots offseason at safety, but his new team has shuttled him back to his old job. Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips‘ early OTAs absences prompted the Pats to use Mills alongside Kyle Dugger at safety. But he spent the team’s final week of OTAs back at corner, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes. With Stephon Gilmore holding out, Mills played opposite J.C. Jackson at corner Monday, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic (subscription required). Thirty-four of Mills’ 49 NFL starts have come at corner, including 15 in the Eagles’ 2017 Super Bowl-winning season. Gilmore and the Pats are not believed to be close on an extension, clouding his future with the team and complicating New England’s cornerback outlook.

Here are some additional updates from NFL secondaries:

  • A.J. Bouye broke out as an outside corner with the Texans and made the Pro Bowl as a boundary defender with the Jaguars. The Broncos used Bouye on the outside as well last season. The Panthers have a different plan. Carolina DC Phil Snow told Bouye the team needs him in the slot, Joe Person of The Athletic notes (subscription required). After signing Bouye to a two-year, $7MM deal, the Panthers picked Jaycee Horn eighth overall. Horn and Donte Jackson are on track to be Carolina’s outside corners this season.
  • Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn underwent surgery for an injury that has bothered him since college. The second-year defender had what Matt Rhule described as a minor knee operation this offseason, but Carolina’s HC said the injury Chinn dealt with in 2020 had bothered him dating back to his Southern Illinois days (Twitter links via Person). Despite the injury, Chinn proved to be one of the NFL’s top rookies last season.
  • Richard Sherman surfaced on the Seahawks‘ radar recently, but he is taking his time on deciding his next team. The three-year 49ers corner did advise ex-teammate Ahkello Witherspoon to move to Seattle, however. The former Legion of Boom member told Witherspoon he would fit in well with the Seahawks, Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic notes. Witherspoon signed a one-year, $4MM contract with the Seahawks in March. A third-round 49ers pick in 2017, Witherspoon made a 30 visit to Seattle ahead of the draft four years ago.
  • The Cowboys did not use Reggie Robinson on defense in his rookie season, but they moved the 2020 fourth-round pick from cornerback to safety during training camp last year. While that change did not end up mattering during regular-season games, Robinson is now back at corner, Jon Machota of The Athletic notes.
  • Marvell Tell opted out of the 2020 season, but the former fifth-round pick is back at work with the Colts. Tell has joined the run of secondary position changes this offseason; the Colts have moved him from safety to corner, Stephen Holder of The Athletic writes. As a safety in 2019, Tell played 252 snaps and started one game. The Colts have crowded their cornerback contingent this offseason, re-signing both Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie. Both veterans are on one-year contracts. Tell’s rookie deal tolled from the COVID-19 opt-out; he is under contract through 2023.

NFL Contract Details: Bolts, Griffin, Broncos

With the tampering period in full swing, here are some of the latest contract details to emerge:

  • Chargers C Corey Linsley: Five years, $62.5MM. $26MM guaranteed, $13MM signing bonus. Linsley is due $26MM through 2022, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Linsley’s 2021 base salary ($4MM) is fully guaranteed. His 2022 base salary ($9MM) is guaranteed for injury at signing; it becomes fully guaranteed if he is on the Bolts’ roster on Day 2 of the 2022 league year, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Jaguars CB Shaquill Griffin: Three years, $40MM. $23.5MM fully guaranteed, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. $12MM signing bonus, base salaries of $1MM, $11.5MM and $11.5MM. Griffin is due a $1MM roster bonus in 2023, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Lions DE Romeo Okwara: Three years, $39MM. $14MM signing bonus, $20MM fully guaranteed. Another $5MM will be guaranteed by next March, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).
  • Broncos DL Shelby Harris: Three years, $27MM. $9MM signing bonus. Harris’ $1MM 2021 base salary and $5.5MM of his $7.5MM 2022 base are guaranteed, Wilson tweets.
  • Patriots DB Jalen Mills: Four years, $24MM. $2.5MM signing bonus, $3MM base salary in 2021, $4.5MM in ’22. Williams will have $3.5MM of his 2022 base salary fully guaranteed, Breer tweets.
  • Panthers OL Cameron Erving: Two years, $10MM. This contract includes base salaries of $990K and $2.01MM, with Wilson tweeting a March 2022 roster bonus of $2.5MM is guaranteed.
  • 49ers CB Jason Verrett: One year, $5.5MM. $2MM signing bonus, $2.5MM base salary, $1MM in per-game roster bonuses. Another $1MM is available via incentives, Yates tweets.

Patriots To Sign Jalen Mills

The Patriots just won’t stop. After signing Jonnu Smith, Davon Godchaux, and Matt Judon to big deals already, New England is adding another high profile player.

The Pats are signing defensive back Jalen Mills, agent Drew Rosenhaus tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Interestingly, Rosenhaus also represents both Smith and Godchaux, so clearly he and Bill Belichick have a good relationship. It’s a four-year deal for Mills, worth $24MM with $9MM of that guaranteed. The Patriots have been the most active team so far, and it isn’t even close.

New England entered free agency with a lot of cap space, and they weren’t about to let it go to waste. A seventh-round pick of the Eagles in 2016, Mills quickly established himself as a starter and was a huge part of the team that beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII as he started 15 games that year.

Known for his versatility, Mills has extensive experience at both cornerback and safety. Foot injuries limited him to only eight and nine games in 2018 and 2019, but he again started 15 in 2020. This past year he finished with 74 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three passes defended, and an interception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/31/20

Here are the minor moves from 2020’s final day:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: C Alex Mack

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

East Notes: Williams, Mills, Flowers

Trent Williams has been one of the most-discussed players in the NFL for about a year now, and it presently does not sound like the Redskins are close to trading their disgruntled left tackle. One of the more overlooked talking points, however, is what happens if a trade is not completed?

We recently heard that the team does not plan to release Williams, which means he would remain under contract with the Redskins through 2020. And holding out wouldn’t earn him any leverage with the Redskins or with a team interested in trading for him, so as Albert Breer of SI.com writes, Williams would have no choice but to play for Washington next season. He clearly does not want that to happen, but at this point, his clearest path to a lucrative new deal may be to stick it out for one more season with the ‘Skins and prove he is still a top-tier LT.

Let’s round up a few more items from the league’s east divisions:

  • CB Kendall Fuller is back with the Redskins on a four-year deal, and he tells John Keim of ESPN.com that a number of factors brought him back to D.C. The Baltimore native played his collegiate ball at Virginia Tech and was drafted by the Redskins in 2016, so Washington is home for him. He also cited new head coach Ron Rivera and Rivera’s reputation for developing CBs as a draw, along with the defensive staff as a whole. Fuller indicated that he does not know if he will play primarily in the slot or outside the numbers (Twitter links).
  • The Eagles brought back Jalen Mills on a one-year, $4MM pact, and the club plans on transitioning him from cornerback to safety in the wake of Malcolm Jenkins‘ departure. Mills says that Philadelphia was the only team that wanted to move him to safety (Twitter link via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP), but obviously that switch was agreeable to the 2016 seventh-rounder. It’s fair to wonder, however, exactly how much interest Mills was generating as a CB on the open market.
  • Ereck Flowers couldn’t hack it as an offensive tackle in the NFL, but he has reinvented himself as a guard and parlayed a strong showing at LG with Washington in 2019 into a surprising three-year, $30MM contract with the Dolphins last month. This will not come as much of a surprise, but Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald says Miami intends to have Flowers line up at guard, though his experience at tackle made him attractive to head coach Brian Flores, who clearly targeted FAs with positional versatility.
  • The Bills opted against giving WR/KR Isaiah McKenzie an RFA tender, but they did re-sign him to a one-year pact just the same. McKenzie told Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News that he did have other free agent offers, but despite the fact that he is unlikely to see more playing time with the Bills in 2020 than he did in 2019, his preference was to return to Buffalo (Twitter link).

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).

Eagles To Re-Sign CB Jalen Mills

Linked to big-name cornerbacks, the Eagles have yet to land one. But they are bringing back one of their own. Jalen Mills agreed to a one-year deal to stay in Philadelphia, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets

Mills will earn up to $5MM in 2020, per NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter). The Eagles gave Ronald Darby a one-year, $5MM prove-it deal in 2019. Mills has been with the team longer, arriving as a seventh-round pick in 2016.

Anderson also notes a position change is in store for Mills. The Eagles are moving him to safety. This comes with Rodney McLeod in free agency and Malcolm Jenkins‘ place on the team uncertain. Mills has also shown himself to be a proven tackler at cornerback, compiling more than 60 tackles as a rookie and in 2017. Injuries limited him in 2018 and ’19, but he returned midway through last season and enticed the Eagles to retain him.

With his new pact, Mills can afford as many dress shirts, or snazzy vests, as he wants.

Eagles To Pursue CBs In Free Agency

The Eagles are expected to “go hard” after cornerbacks in free agency, Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network hears. Philadelphia is projected to have around $44MM in cap space, and the club plans to use a big chunk of that on a CB or two.

The Broncos’ Chris Harris and the Cowboys’ Byron Jones are two of the biggest names being thrown around, and assuming they do not re-up with their current clubs, they will hit free agency with a good shot at a top-of-the-market deal (i.e. $15MM+ per year with upwards of $45MM in full guarantees). However, the Eagles will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to upgrade their CB corps, per Pauline.

Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are also eligible for free agency, and it’s unclear if the Eagles will bring back either player. They may explore a multiyear deal with Mills, who played decently after returning from injury in Week 7, but it would not be a surprise to see them part ways with Darby. Plus, as Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com writes, Philadelphia does not consider Rasul Douglas or Sidney Jones starter material, and both are trade candidates.

As such, there will clearly be room for several cornerbacks on the Eagles’ 2020 roster. In 2019, the team finished in the middle of the pack in terms of pass defense efficiency, per Football Outsiders, and in passing yards allowed per game, so an upgrade is in order. Of course, they did their best to swing a trade for a quality CB (including Harris) at this year’s trade deadline, but they ultimately did not want to part with the type of draft capital that such a trade would have required.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Notes: Johnson, Ajayi, Mills

Let’s take a quick look at a few items from the City of Brotherly Love:

  • Eagles starting RT Lane Johnson is in the concussion protocol, as Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Johnson suffered a head injury during Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, and while he tried to play through it, the injury worsened and he was ultimately forced to exit (Twitter link via McLane).
  • The Eagles can ill afford to lose Johnson, arguably the best right tackle in football, as they fight for the NFC East title. But if they are without Johnson for any period of time, they could turn to rookie Andre Dillard rather than veteran Halapoulivaati Vaitai, as McLane tweets.
  • Jay Ajayi finally found an NFL home for 2019 when he signed with the Eagles on Friday. Interestingly, the deal includes a right of first refusal for 2020, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. So if it wants, Philadelphia can match any offer Ajayi receives on the open market, which could be significant if the team lets Jordan Howard walk in free agency.
  • Cornerback Jalen Mills is eligible for free agency this offseason, and while he is not perfect, he has been very good since returning from injury in Week 7, and McLane says Mills may be playing his way into a second contract with the Eagles (Twitter link).
  • Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com believes the Eagles need to completely overhaul their WR corps this offseason, and he offers a few names the club could target in free agency and the draft. He also says the Eagles could find a trade partner for Alshon Jeffery and/or DeSean Jackson, though obviously the returns on either player would be minimal.

Eagles Activate CB Jalen Mills

Jalen Mills is back. The Eagles announced that they’ve activated the cornerback off the PUP list. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Mills will play tomorrow night against the Cowboys.

The former seventh-round was incredibly productive during his first two years in the league, compiling 125 tackles, 21 passes defended, and three interceptions. He was having another standout campaign in 2018 before suffering a foot injury that limited him to only eight games. The injury lingered into the 2019 campaign, and the Eagles were forced to place the defensive back on the PUP prior to the regular season.

Mills will immediately be forced to play a big role for the Eagles with cornerback Ronald Darby (hamstring) questionable for Sunday’s game. Cornerback Avonte Maddox has also been ruled out for tomorrow. Mills might have to handle the majority of the team’s snaps at corner, something the 25-year-old isn’t nervous about.

“Just go out there and do my job,” Mills said (via Erin McCarthy and Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer). “I’m not trying to be a superhero. I’m not trying to make any kind of amazing plays. Whatever [defensive coordinator Jim] Schwartz calls, line up and do my job, compete like my teammates and coaches know I can.”

“It’s always the mindset, to play the entire game. I think I am [able].”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.