Jarius Wright

Panthers To Add WR Jarius Wright

Jarius Wright will follow his former offensive coordinator south, agreeing to terms with the Panthers. The Vikings cut Wright last week and were open to a reunion with him. But Wright will follow Norv Turner to Charlotte.

The Panthers have agreed to a three-year deal with Wright, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (Twitter links), and will provide him with a $2MM signing bonus. The first year of this deal is worth $3.5MM with incentives, per Rapoport. Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer first reported a deal was imminent.

Wright follows Torrey Smith to Carolina, adding some veteran help for a young receiving corps that will see up-and-coming slot presence Curtis Samuel rehab from a season-ending injury this offseason. The Panthers also have veteran Russell Shepard under contract for 2018.

Minnesota released Wright but were open to having him back for a seventh season. However, the 28-year-old target opted for his first NFL agreement elsewhere instead. He pieced together a nice stretch from 2013-15, recording at least 430 receiving yards in each of those seasons. Wright posted a career-high 588 air yards in 2014 but regressed in the Vikings’ pecking order after Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen‘s arrivals. He caught 18 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Bengals, Vikings, Ansah

We learned earlier today that the Steelers signed Jon Bostic to a two-year deal as a potential fill-in for Ryan Shazier, and now we’ll take a swing around a few other north division clubs:

  • Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer think the Bengals did very well for themselves during the first week of the new league year, and they believe the club is done with its major free agent additions/trades in 2018. One of the reasons the team was so successful is that it did not force itself into an expensive Russell Bodine contract. The market has not developed for Bodine, a four-year starter in Cincinnati, in the way that he thought it would, and he may have to settle for a modest deal. We heard earlier today that he will be making a visit to the Bills, and while the Bengals will have center options in the draft, they could bring back Bodine if his price falls far enough.
  • Yesterday, we heard that the Vikings were open to bringing back the recently-released Jarius Wright at a lesser rate, and Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press says that Wright himself would be open to rejoining Minnesota at a reduced salary. Wright said, “It’s not out of the question. But it’s the NFL. We’ll have to see what happens. But I love Minnesota. I would love to come back, so you just never know what will happen.”
  • The Broncos signed OL Billy Turner yesterday, but Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets that the Vikings also had interest in Turner as a depth option. Tomasson tweets that the team might not have the funds to make a major O-line addition, though it will continue to monitor the market for potential bargains (like Turner). Any potential starter, though, would likely come through the draft.
  • The Lions recently retained Zach Zenner on a one-year deal and signed LeGarrette Blount to a one-year pact, which leads Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com to believe that the club will target an RB early in the draft.
  • In the same piece, Rothstein says he believes Ziggy Ansah will play out the 2018 season on the franchise tender and that he and Lions are not likely to reach a long-term agreement before the July deadline. Rothstein also said the team cut Eric Ebron and saved his significant salary cap charge for a reason, though it’s not clear what that is just yet. Rothstein says Ebron would not have been cut unless the team knew it had a better option coming in (although the Lions could have simply felt that Ebron’s role as a potential mismatch receiving tight end might not be as important to the offense in 2018).

Vikings Notes: Johnson, Richardson, Newman

Now that the Vikings have Sheldon Richardson set to add to an already stacked defense, the team is probably going to move on from previous defensive tackle starter Tom Johnson. Rick Spielman does not expect Johnson to return, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (on Twitter). The Vikes were previously open to a Johnson re-up, but that was before Richardson agreed to terms. Johnson turned down a $4MM extension offer last year that would have kept him alongside Linval Joseph on Minnesota’s front in 2018. But now, a menacing-looking Joseph-Richardson setup will be deployed. The Seahawks lost Richardson and now have interest in the 33-year-old likely-to-be former Viking.

Here’s more from the Vikings, courtesy of Tomasson.

  • Terence Newman has expressed interest in returning for an age-40 season, and Tomasson tweets he would like that to be with the Vikings. However, he wonders if Newman — who counted nearly $4MM toward Minnesota’s 2017 cap — would be a fit at that price now that major dollars have been allocated for big-name talent this offseason. The Vikings still have nearly $20MM in cap space but also have several key extension candidates entering contract years.
  • Spielman is confident Richardson has left his off-field trouble in the past. The former defensive rookie of the year encountered legal trouble while with the Jets, resulting in suspensions in 2015 and ’16 — the former a four-game ban. “We did a lot of research on that. That was maybe 2 1/2, 3 years ago,” Spielman said, via Tomasson (on Twitter). “We talked to a ton of people about it. … I felt very confident with him coming into this culture into our locker room that he’ll fit right in.’’
  • The Vikings cut Jarius Wright after six seasons on Friday. The team kept him in the loop throughout this process. The 28-year-old pass-catcher added the Vikings alerted him a cap-casualty cut was a possibility. “They had come to me and let me know that it was a possibly with some of the contracts they were looking at,” Wright said, via Tomasson (on Twitter). “They kept me updated.” It’s possible Wright, who was set to make $3.64MM in base salary next season, could be brought back at a lower rate.

Vikings Interested In Bringing Back WR Jarius Wright

Receiver Jarius Wright‘s tenure with the Vikings may not be over, after all. ESPN’s Courtney Cronin tweets that the organization is interested in bring back the 28-year-old. The team released Wright yesterday, freeing up $2.64 MM in cap space (while counting towards $2.12 MM in dead money).

In 2017, the slot receiver notched 18 receptions for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He added another six catches for 107 yards in two postseason games. Drafted by the team in the fourth round in 2012, Wright logged 153 receptions for 2,039 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Wright was a solid contributor with the Vikings and earned a 75.1 grade from Pro Football Focus. If Wright does return to Minnesota, he’ll likely regain his spot on the depth chart behind Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Laquon Treadwell.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Cut WR Jarius Wright

The Vikings continued their offensive reshuffling on Friday, announcing the release of sixth-year wideout Jarius Wright (Twitter link). According to Mark Craig of the Star Tribune, part of the timing with the move is to allow the receiver time to find another team (Twitter link).

The move helps free up cap space to allow the Vikings to sign the likes of Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson. Wright was due a $3.6 MM base salary in 2018, and the move frees up $2.64 MM in cap space. He will count $2.12 MM in dead money.

In 2017, the slot receiver notched 18 receptions for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He added another six catches for 107 yards in two postseason games. Drafted by the team in the fourth round in 2012, Wright logged 153 receptions for 2,039 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Wright was a solid contributor with the Vikings and earned a 75.1 grade from Pro Football Focus.

NFC North Notes: Vikings, Nelson, Trubisky

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was hired to his post mostly because of his mastery in calling an NFL defense. Zimmer was the Bengals defensive coordinator for six seasons before making the jump to the head coaching ranks in 2014. Although, he’s still been calling Minnesota’s defensive plays for the past four years. However, that is something that may change come 2018, reports Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune.

Krammer passes along that Zimmer almost gave up his playing calling duties this past year to defensive coordinator George Edwards. He ultimately decided against the move largely because of his success at calling defensive schemes for the past 18 years. Zimmer did express that Edwards is the main orchestrator of the team’s defensive game plan for the most part anyway.

“George does everything,” Zimmer said. “He helps with the game plan. He runs a lot of the meetings, the defensive meetings. Him and I really sit down and talk about all the different things that are going on. He studies the game just like he’s calling the game. So he’ll come in and talk to me about second down-and-whatever. ‘They’re doing this,’ or, ‘they’re doing that.’ Really, he does everything other than call the game on Sunday.”

Edwards used to call plays for the Bills back in 2011, but has taken a backseat in that regard in order to work as a member of Zimmer’s staff. This dynamic could be a subplot as we approach next year’s training camp because Zimmer appears to be letting go of the idea that he has to be the one making the final defensive decisions on Sundays.

“It’s a lot of work when you sit down and do it,” Zimmer said of calling plays. “I’ve done it for a long time. And because I have confidence in George, as well. I think maybe just the fact that, um, you know, I don’t know – I guess I’m just getting older.”

Here’s more stories from around the NFC North:

  • In other Vikings news, wide receiver Jarius Wright is reported to have restructured his deal at the beginning of the season, which dropped his base salary from $2.5MM to $1.05MM, according to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). Goessling notes that Wright has earned weekly roster bonuses of about $93k in order to get back his original salary figure. With that in mind, he’ll have earned back the rest of his money by the time Week 17 kicks off.
  • Packers longtime receiver Jordy Nelson appears to be stuck in limbo with the organization the drafted him back in 2008, opines Rob Demosvky of ESPN.com. Nelson, who’ll turn 33 over the summer has seen a major drop off in production in his 10th year in the NFL. Demovsky suggests that the veteran wideout may hinder the team’s ability to re-sign the more productive and younger Davante Adams, who’ll be a free agent this offseason. Nelson will collect about $10MM in salary and bonuses in 2018, which will make him more difficult to cut or trade in the next few months. Randall Cobb is signed long-term as well, but is five years Nelson’s junior, which makes him a better piece to have moving forward. Not being able to sign Adams would be a major blow for a Packers team that saw what life is like without Aaron Rodgers this year. This puts the Packers in a very difficult position entering a crucial offseason with the team having missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
  • Mitch Trubisky has had his moments during his rookie campaign, but has largely faced a lot of difficulty in his first season in the NFL. It’s expected that the Bears coaching staff and roster will have a lot of turnover this offseason, but the young signal caller expects to take a “big jump” in 2018, reports Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune“I’m always motivated to get better,” Trubisky said. “I expect to make a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2. The experience I got this year, I’m definitely going to carry that with me into the offseason and expect to have a lot of momentum and just a full head of steam going into next year.” While he experienced a number of challenges in 2017, Trubisky emphasized “growth and development” in his reflection of his first foray into professional football. Expect the Bears to put an emphasis on surrounding Trubisky with more talent this offseason. He’s had to work with patchwork receiving groups all year long, which certainly does not bode well for his outlook moving forward. The former first round pick comes into Week 17 completing under 60% of his passes, while throwing just as many touchdowns as interceptions at seven apiece.

 

Jarius Wright Hopes To Stay With Vikings

Earlier this year, Jarius Wright was the subject of trade rumors. As this year’s trade deadline approaches, however, the Vikings wide receiver says that he has not caught wind of any trade possibility, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press tweets. Furthermore, he says that he hopes to remain in Minnesota. Jarius Wright (vertical)

As it stands, Wright is slated to be with the Vikings for a long time thanks to the extension he signed about 13 months ago. Initially slated to finish out his rookie deal after the 2015 season, the four-year extension worth $14.8MM ($7MM guaranteed) should keep him in place through 2019.

Last season, Wright caught 34 passes for 442 yards. However, he’s been mostly relegated to the bench this season with Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, Adam Thielen, and Cordarrelle Patterson ahead of him. Wright has only seen the field in two games this season and did not get his opportunity until injuries carved a path for him.

The only reason I was frustrated was I just know that I could help this team,’’ said Wright earlier this month (via Tomasson). “But I also have been in the league long enough to understand it’s a long season. But who would I replace? All the receivers have been making plays. … Sometimes it takes an injury to get a chance.’’

Wright, 27 in November, could get more of an opportunity elsewhere. But, as far as he knows, he’s not being shopped and wants it to stay that way.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Looking To Deal Jarius Wright?

9:05am: A pair of sources told Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune that the Vikings are not looking to deal Wright (Twitter link). The writer notes that this could change at some point today, especially since Thielen has passed Wright on the depth chart.

8:13am: With the Vikings wide receiver depth chart being dominated by younger, versatile players, the organization may be looking to move one of their more veteran wideouts. According to ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling (via Twitter), the Vikings have been trying to trade receiver Jarius Wright.

Dec 27, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) celebrates a first down during the second quarter against the New York Giants at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Wright has spent his entire four-year career in Minnesota after being selected in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. It looked like 2015 could be a breakout year for the former Arkansas standout, especially following a 2014 campaign where he compiled 42 receptions for 588 yards and two touchdowns. However, despite playing in all 16 games, 2015 was a bit of a disappointment, as Wright only managed to grab 34 catches for 442 yards and no touchdowns.

Goessling notes that the Vikings will likely roll with six wide receivers, but he points out that the organization appreciates some of the player’s ability to play multiple positions. As Roster Resource notes, Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, and Laquon Treadwell already topped Wright on the Vikings depth chart. Assuming the 26-year-old is traded or released, that would presumably bump Cordarrelle Patterson, Adam Thielen, and Moritz Boehringer on the depth chart.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Extend Jarius Wright

The Vikings have signed wide receiver Jarius Wright to a contract extension, the team announced today in a press release. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), it’s a four-year extension worth $14.8MM, with $7MM in guaranteed money.

Wright, 25, has been with the Vikings since the team selected him in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. In 2014, he established new career highs in games started (seven), receptions (42), and receiving yards (588), and was also a threat to run the ball, racking up 71 rushing yards on five attempts. He had been set to earn $1.542MM in 2015, the final year of his rookie contract.

“Jarius has been a key member of our offense since we drafted him in 2012 and we felt it was necessary to secure his future with our organization,” GM Rick Spielman said in a statement. “His commitment to this team, hard work and leadership in the WR room are several of the intangibles that he brings to our club on a daily basis and we’re excited for his future with the Vikings. With the help of WR coach George Stewart, Jarius has greatly improved since coming to Minnesota. This extension stays true to our philosophy of drafting young talent, developing them in our system and rewarding their success.”

Wright heads into the season as Minnesota’s third receiver behind Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace, and his new deal is similar to the ones signed by a couple other slot wideouts recently — Cole Beasley of the Cowboys and Jeremy Kerley of the Jets each inked four-year pacts worth between $3.4MM and $3.5MM annually, so Wright did a little better with his $3.7MM annual average.

2015 Proven Performance Escalator Raises

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time in said snaps for the duration of his first three years in the league. If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s restricted free agent qualifying offer — that figure was $1.431MM last year, and will inflate commensurate with the salary cap increase. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their 2015 salary rise due to the PPE, courtesy of Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap.

Bengals: George Iloka, S; Mohamed Sanu, WR

Bills: Nigel Bradham, LB

Broncos: Malik Jackson, DL; Danny Trevathan, LB;

Browns: Billy Winn, DL

Cardinals: Bobby Massie, T

Chargers: Johnnie Troutman, G

Colts: Dwayne Allen, TE; T.Y. Hilton, WR

Dolphins: Lamar Miller, RB; Olivier Vernon, DE

Eagles: Brandon Boykin, CB; Nick Foles; QB

Falcons: Lamar Holmes, T

Jets: Demario Davis, LB; Antonio Allen, DB

Packers: Mike Daniels, DL

Panthers: Josh Norman, CB

Patriots: Alfonzo Dennard, CB

Raiders: Miles Burris, LB

Rams: Chris Givens, WR; Trumaine Johnson, CB

Ravens: Gino Gradkowski, C

Saints: Akiem Hicks, DT; Corey White, CB

Seahawks: J.R. Sweezy, G; Russell Wilson, QB

Steelers: Kelvin Beachum, T

Texans: Brandon Brooks, G; Jared Crick, DL; Ben Jones, G

Titans: Coty Sensabaugh, CB

Vikings: Robert Blanton, S: Rhett Ellison, TE; Josh Robinson, CB; Jarius Wright, WR

Washington: Alfred Morris, RB