Jason Kelce

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Kelce, Giants

Here’s a look at the NFC East:

  • Eagles center Jason Kelce says he played through a grade two MCL sprain, a broken foot, a “torn elbow” and other nagging injuries in 2018 (Twitter link via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer). Kelce, who recently re-upped with the team on an extension to take him through the 2021 season, says he’s not quite 100%, noting that he’s “as healed as I’m going to get.” Following the Eagles’ Divisional Round loss to the Saints, Kelce hinted that he may end up retiring, so it’s unlikely that Kelce will actually play through ’21. Instead, his new deal simply signals that he’s committed to play this season.
  • Eagles running back Josh Adams is expected to miss the start of the team’s offseason conditioning program as he recovers from shoulder surgery, Mike Kaye of NJ.com hears. The good news is that Adams’ six-month timetable from January labrum surgery should put him in line to participate in July’s training camp. Adams put himself on the map last year with a team-leading 511 rushing yards plus three touchdowns. His usage dropped after five consecutive starts, but he’ll have an opportunity to build on that progress in 2019.
  • Sterling Shepard‘s contract extension talks with the Giants appeared to have picked up after the Odell Beckham trade, Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com tweets. Shepard’s new deal – a four-year, $41MM pact – was larger than expected, though the going rate for wide receivers shot up dramatically this offseason. Had the Giants not extended Shepard, teams such as the Patriots would have been ready to pounce on him in free agency next year.

Contract Details: Smith, Kelce, Johnson

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed contracts from around the NFL:

  • Donovan Smith, T (Buccaneers): Three years, $41.25MM. $27MM fully guaranteed. Guaranteed 2019 base salary of $7MM with a $5.5MM roster bonus. Guaranteed $14.5MM base salary in 2020. Non-guaranteed $14.25MM base salary in 2021. $5MM of 2019 salary deferred until 6/15/20. $3MM of 2020 salary deferred until 3/5/21. Deferrals have no impact on salary cap (Twitter link via Dan Graziano of ESPN.com).
  • Jason Kelce, C (Eagles): Extended through 2021. $7.57MM signing bonus. 2019 base salary reduced from $6.5MM to $930K. 2020 base salary reduced from $7MM to $1.5MM with a $2MM roster bonus. $500K playing time escalator available in 2020 for playing 90% of offensive snaps. 2021 base salary of $5.5MM (Twitter links via Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia).
  • Denzelle Good, OL (Raiders): Extended through 2019. One-year, $1.7MM. $500K signing bonus. $200K per-game roster bonuses. $100K workout bonus. $1.2MM available via playtime incentives (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal).
  • Lane Johnson, T (Eagles): Restructured contract. Created $8.2MM in cap space by converting $10.045MM of his 2019 base salary into a signing bonus. Base salary is now $805K (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). Added voidable years in 2022-23 (Twitter link via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer).
  • Mike Person, OL (49ers): Three years, $8.25MM. $2.45MM fully guaranteed. $1MM roster bonus, $1.45MM fully guaranteed 2019 base salary. $250K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com).
  • Romeo Okwara, DE (Lions): Two years, $6.8MM. $2.705MM signing bonus. 2019 base salary of $720K fully guaranteed. $500 workout bonus in 2019 (Twitter link via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com).

NFC East Notes: Beckham Jr., Giants, Eagles, Cowboys

There’s been a lot of renewed discussion about the possibility of an Odell Beckham Jr. trade recently. Beckham Jr. was shopped last offseason, but a mega-extension he signed just before the season seemed to put any trade talk to rest. Just a year into his new record breaking deal however, the rumors have popped up again after Beckham Jr. clashed with his new coaching staff this past weekend. Speaking at the combine this week Giants GM Dave Gettleman didn’t completely shut the door on a potential trade, but said the team “didn’t sign Odell to trade him.”

To that end, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY says the Giants won’t get serious about trading him “unless they are overwhelmed with an offer.” On the other hand, Vacchiano also says head coach Pat Shurmur was “furious” with him at times last year over his antics, particularly when he gave an interview to ESPN where he openly questioned the team’s quarterback situation. Vacchiano also writes that the Giants “are often closer to the breaking point than they may publicly appear” with Beckham Jr. It’ll be a fascinating situation to monitor as the offseason unfold.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • After flirting with retirement, Eagles center Jason Kelce ended up signing an extension with the team today. We now have details on the extension, as the new deal will make Kelce the highest paid center in the league, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapoport notes that the remaining three years on KElce’s contract will now pay him an average of $11MM per year. Kelce received Pro Football Focus’ top grade among all centers, so it makes sense why he’s being paid like it. Kelce is 31 now, and should have at least a couple more years left at an elite level.
  • Speaking of retirement, we have more details on Jason Witten‘s role with the Cowboys in his return. While we’ve already heard Witten won’t be playing a full allotment of snaps, owner “Jerry Jones does not believe the veteran will be a bit piece in the offense,” according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Per Archer, Jones said this week that he doesn’t think Witten’s “a progress stopper”, and that he’ll be “well worth the roster spot.” It sounds like Witten could play a meaningful role in the offense even after taking the year off.
  • The Eagles plan on having backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld back in camp next year coach Doug Pederson said from the combine, according to Les Bowen of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Sirius XM’s NFL Insider Adam Caplan tweeted in response that Sudfeld, who is a restricted free agent, is an “interesting player who could draw strong interest from other teams if they use the low tender.” Pederson did say that the team doesn’t “just go around and give out jobs,” but they wanted Sudfeld to compete to be Carson Wentz‘s backup. Assuming another team doesn’t steal him away with an offer sheet, it sounds like Sudfeld should slide in and replace Nick Foles as the primary backup in Philly.

Eagles Sign C Jason Kelce To Extension

Jason Kelce won’t be retiring after all. The Eagles announced that they’ve agreed to a one-year extension with the veteran offensive center.

Kelce is now under contract through 2021, and Adam Caplan tweets that the lineman will make around $11MM per season (making Kelce the highest-paid center in the NFL). As Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com points out, the 31-year-old was set to have a cap hit of $6.5MM next season.

Following the Eagles’ Divisional Round loss to the Saints, Kelce hinted that he may end up retiring, with the lineman telling reporters that he had actually considered retiring during each of the past couple seasons. Today’s extension means Kelce’s contract now lasts through the 2021 season, but it doesn’t sound like the veteran will stick around that long. Rather, today’s deal is basically a commitment by Kelce to return for the 2019 campaign.

The 2011 sixth-round pick has spent his entire NFL career with Philly, earning a pair of Pro Bowl nods. Kelce earned his second-straight First-Team All-Pro accolade this past season, and it was also the fourth-straight year that the lineman started all 16 games for the Eagles. Kecle also ranked first among Pro Football Focus‘ ranking of 38 eligible centers, the second-straight season he’s finished atop the list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Thomas, Eli, Guice, Eagles

Linked for more than a year now, Earl Thomas and the Cowboys could be a match soon. Thomas seems certain to hit the market, and the Cowboys offered a second-round pick for him last year. It would only take money to bring Thomas to Dallas this year, but the sides may not be as strong of a match. The Cowboys hold nearly $50MM in cap space, but a big chunk of that will likely go to another DeMarcus Lawrence franchise tag. Other funds will be earmarked for extensions for several young talents. The Cowboys could use safety help, but Albert Breer of SI.com does not get the vibe the organization will be ready to shell out top-end safety money to bring Thomas to Dallas.

On the eve of the franchise tag window opening, here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • More evidence for the Eli Manning-will-be-back noise: the 15-year Giants quarterback has been working out at the team facility throughout the offseason, Breer notes. While this is not unusual, as Manning does this annually, his conditioning headquarters may have shifted had the Giants given him an indication they were legitimately considering moving on from him. Although nothing concrete has emerged on this front yet, Manning remaining the starter is the expectation for 2019.
  • The Redskins have experienced some significant trouble with infections lately, with the respective recoveries of Alex Smith and Derrius Guice delayed because of post-surgery complications. Guice’s road back from a torn ACL was sidetracked by two months, but the running back is now sprinting full speed again. The LSU product revealed in a first-person recovery diary for the Redskins’ website (via J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington) he has yet to cut at full speed, though. Training camp, and not OTAs, may be the goal, Finlay points out. That would not be a surprise given how quickly Guice went down last year.
  • With the Broncos completing a trade for Joe Flacco — a move the Redskins explored — might Washington attempt to pursue Case Keenum? Washington’s financial obligations seem likely to prevent that, Finlay writes. Smith and Colt McCoy combine for nearly $25MM of Washington’s cap space, and Finlay expects Keenum — even in the event Denver releases him — to command a high-end backup deal. Chase Daniel‘s accord averages $5MM per year, and Keenum’s 2017 season would seemingly make him likely to surpass that. However, if Washington won’t pay a high-seven-figure sum for a veteran on Keenum’s level, pursuing Teddy Bridgewater would be difficult. If the Redskins are to chase a veteran to start over McCoy, they will likely have to at least enter high-end backup spending territory.
  • Although Jason Kelce said immediately after the Eagles‘ divisional-round loss he was considering retirement, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia gets the sense the All-Pro center is leaning toward returning for 2019. Kelce is only 31 and may have another contract to come. But for now, he’s attached to an Eagles-friendly deal that has him making $6.5MM salary. No guaranteed money remains on Kelce’s deal, which he signed in February 2014.

Extra Points: Dolphins, Eagles, Brooks, Kelce, Gates, Chargers

The Dolphins are entering a complete rebuild in 2019, with a new head coach, new front office head, and likely a new quarterback. New GM Chris Grier is continuing to make moves, as he’s bringing in Bills national scout Marvin Allen to be his new assistant GM, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). It’s the latest in a series of coaching and front office swaps teams have made in the AFC East, with Adam Gase going from the Dolphins to the Jets, Brian Flores going from the Patriots to the Dolphins etc.

Schefter writes that Grier and Allen “have a strong relationship.” The Dolphins have perhaps the most unclear path forward of any team in the NFL with a ton of uncertainty, so Grier and Allen will have their work cut out for them. Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald chimed in with a tweet to say that Allen was “widely respected” and a “very good evaluator.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • We heard earlier today that Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks suffered a “serious” lower leg injury in the team’s loss to the Saints, and now we have some clarity. Brooks, who was recently named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, tore his Achilles during the game, according to Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). He wasn’t the only significant player to tear his Achilles during the game, as Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins suffered the same injury. Brooks still has a couple years left back on the huge deal he signed in 2016, but he could miss a significant portion of the 2019 season with this injury. Pro Football Focus gave Brooks the ninth highest grade of any guard in the league, so it’s a massive blow to Philly’s offensive line.
  • Speaking of the Eagles, Brooks isn’t the only member of the offensive line they might be losing for 2019. All-Pro center Jason Kelce hasn’t decided whether or not he is going to play next year, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Kelce told reporters he has considered retiring each of the past couple seasons, so it sounds like a real possibility that he calls it quits this offseason. The 2011 sixth round pick turned 31 in November. If he does indeed retire, the Eagles’ offensive line would be a lot worse off next year.
  • Speaking of retirement, Antonio Gates isn’t ready to hang them up quite yet. Gates told reporters after the Chargers’ loss to the Patriots that he wanted to keep playing if the Chargers would take him back, per Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com. The all time leader in touchdown catches for tight ends was only brought back after Hunter Henry tore his ACL last May, so it’s unclear if the Chargers actually have any interest in retaining him for another year. The 38-year-old caught 28 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns this season. If he did play his final game today, he got a garbage time touchdown from Philip Rivers as a nice sendoff.

NFC Rumors: Vikes, Saints, Hawks, Eagles

A left knee injury will shelve Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford for the second straight game on Sunday, but it’s not necessarily time to panic, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network says (video link). While Bradford’s knee is “painful,” according to Pelissero, doctors have not told the quarterback that it has any structural that would require surgery. Notably, Bradford underwent procedures for two torn ACLs in that knee earlier in his career. For now, Bradford and the Vikings are hoping he’ll return for their Week 4 home game against Detroit – the first of three divisional matchups in a row.

  • A lack of continuity is one of the key causes of the Saints’ years-long defensive struggles, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com observes. The Saints have started the most defenders (55) in the NFL dating back to 2014, and have also seen a league-high 23 defensive backs start at least two games in that span, per Triplett. The club has simply missed on too many defensive free agent signings and draft picks – including linebacker Stephone Anthony – to establish a rhythm on that side of the ball, Triplett contends. The Saints traded Anthony, a first-round selection in 2015, to Miami this week for a 2018 fifth-rounder after he failed to live up to his draft status in New Orleans. Safety Kenny Vaccaro, a 2013 first-rounder, may also find himself in another uniform soon. A starter in 57 of 58 career appearances, Vaccaro sat on the bench for a large portion of the Saints’ blowout loss to New England last week. Former teammate Scott Shanle, a retired linebacker, informed Triplett that Vaccaro is “the most bipolar player I’ve ever seen as far as consistency. When he’s on, he’s one of the best players in the league. When he’s off, I just don’t get it.”
  • Seahawks tight end Luke Willson told Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times that he expected his offseason foray into free agency to go better than it did. Willson was on the market for a week before re-signing with the Seahawks on a modest deal worth between $1.8MM and $3MM. “To be honest with you it was a miserable process,’’ Willson said. “Not what I expected. I don’t know what day I officially signed back but it wasn’t the first few days and it was, whatever it was — four days of being unemployed felt like about four months.’’ Willson added that he has no complaints about the end result, noting that he’s still “making quite a bit of money playing football.” The 27-year-old has never been a prolific pass catcher during his four-plus seasons, meaning he could once again have trouble scoring a coveted long-term contract by next spring.
  • Eagles executive vice president Howie Roseman erred in handing guard Isaac Seumalo a starting job before training camp began, Paul Domowitch of Philly.com opines. Roseman traded Allen Barbre to Denver on July 26 to further drive home the point that he wanted Seumalo in the starting lineup, but the second-year man is already headed to the bench in favor of Chance Warmack after a pair of rough games. The Eagles’ hope was that Seumalo would start all 16 games at left guard this year and then, perhaps as early as next season, shift to center to take over for Jason Kelce, Domowitch suggests. Kelce’s under contract for a few more years, so if Seumalo doesn’t return to a No. 1 role this season and show marked improvement, perhaps the former will stick around in 2018.

NFC Notes: D. Martin, Giants, Joeckel

We heard last month that the Buccaneers may retain RB Doug Martin, and Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times explains why Martin remains relevant to the Bucs. For one, Tampa Bay did not select a running back in the draft that could make an instant impact, so Martin is still the most talented back on the roster. But the Bucs do have enough talent at the position to get away with a running back-by-committee until Martin returns from suspension in October, so they can afford to be patient. Plus, Martin has something to prove, and he has shown that, when motivated, he can be highly productive. The team has expressed a great deal of optimism about Martin’s prospects since the draft, so it is looking more likely than ever that he will play out the 2017 campaign with the Bucs.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • The Giants were one of the most logical suitors for free agent RB LeGarrette Blount, but the Patriots’ decision to use a May 9 tender on Blount probably takes New York out of the picture, according to James Kratch of NJ.com. Plus, Kratch believes the team’s reported interest in adding a veteran back was always a bit overblown, as the Giants have three young RBs that they want to give opportunities to, along with veteran Shane Vereen.
  • In the same piece, Kratch observes that Giants cornerstones Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Landon Collins, and Odell Beckham will all reach the end of their rookie contracts over the next two seasons. Kratch says it will be difficult for Big Blue to re-sign all four, but it’s not impossible, and he lays out how New York could go about it.
  • Former West Virginia center Tyler Orlosky is part of the Eagles‘ 2017 class of UDFAs, and as Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com writes, it was a bit surprising that Orlosky chose to sign with Philadelphia. After all, he garnered plenty of interest as a UDFA, and the Eagles have three centers on their roster that they are invested in to some degree. But Shorr-Parks suggests that Orlosky may know something we don’t, and if Orlosky performs well in camp, Shorr-Parks says Philadelphia could ship veteran Jason Kelce, whom the club has been trying to trade anyway, off to the highest bidder.
  • Luke Joeckel represents the biggest investment the Seahawks made in free agency this offseason, but given his disappointing tenure as a left tackle for the Jaguars — which ultimately forced him to move to guard — and his season-ending knee injury in 2016, there is plenty of skepticism about his ability to bolster Seattle’s underwhelming O-line. But Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable is bullish on Joeckel’s outlook. As Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com writes, Cable said during a recent radio interview that Joeckel played as well as any guard in the league before his injury last season, and he believes his coaching will only make Joeckel better. Of course, Joeckel only signed a one-year pact, so if he does play well and stay healthy, the Seahawks will likely have to pay a premium to keep him.
  • The Rams‘ center position is hardly settled, as injury-prone John Sullivan sits atop the depth chart with only Demetrius Rhaney, a special-teams contributor and a natural guard, behind him. As such, Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Daily News writes that UDFA Jake Eldrenkamp, who did not play center at all in college but whose body and skill-set are best-suited to center at the professional level, has a real chance of winning the starting job this summer. At the very least, he could make the team as Sullivan’s backup.

10 Centers The Saints Could Pursue

Saints center Max Unger went under the knife to help fix an issue with his foot, and that surgery will cause him to miss the start of the season. With no exact timetable in place for his return, the Saints will likely consider out-of-house options to help fill the void.

With some help from PFR’s Dallas Robinson, here are centers that New Orleans could look into acquiring:

  • Nick Mangold (free agent): Mangold remains on the open market and he stands as the most obvious choice for the Saints to consider. The Saints would be hard-pressed to find anyone with a resume as impressive as Mangold’s and the seven-time Pro Bowler probably wouldn’t cost all that much at this stage of the offseason. At the same time, there’s a reason why he is still available here in May and word of clubs asking him to change positions isn’t exactly encouraging. "<strong
  • Jason Kelce (Eagles): Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com was quick to connect the dots on Monday morning after word of Unger’s injury broke. The Eagles reportedly have had Kelce on the trading block for some time now and the Saints would now be a logical landing spot for him. The Eagles beat writer suggests that a Kelce deal could see running back Mark Ingram going to Philly, but I personally have a hard time seeing that happen. If the Saints are unable to meet the Eagles’ asking price for Kelce, however, they might be able to swing a deal for another interesting option on their roster.
  • Stefen Wisniewski (Eagles): If the Eagles were to trade Kelce, Wisniewski or guard Isaac Seumalo would be the top candidates to step into the starting role. However, Wisniewski himself would make lots of sense as a stopgap for the Saints. Wisniewski was a starter for five straight years with the Raiders and Jaguars before landing with the Eagles as a reserve. In addition to that starting experience, he also offers experience at guard, so he could be used at multiple spots once Unger returns to action. Pro Football Focus ranked him 39th among 72 eligible guards last season with strong marks for his pass blocking skills.
  • Joe Hawley (Buccaneers): The Buccaneers are moving Ali Marpet to center and he could very well wind up as the starter. There’s also Evan Dietrich-Smith and guard/tackle Ken Pamphile to consider for the No. 1 job and that could make Hawley expendable. The 28-year-old (29 in October) has been the Bucs’ primary center for the last two years, but he could be on the outside looking in after camp concludes. This offseason, he re-signed with the team on a two-year, $5.5MM deal with just $1MM guaranteed. It’s an affordable deal that the Saints could easily wiggle out of next year, if need be. Alternatively, the Bucs may want to dangle Dietrich-Smith in New Orleans’ direction.
  • Tim Barnes (49ers): Barnes just showed up in San Francisco, but indications are that the Niners will use Jeremy Zuttah as their starting center in 2o17. Before getting cut this offseason, Barnes spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons as the Rams’ starter. Another Niner, Daniel Kilgore, could have appeal for the Saints.
  • Cameron Erving (Browns): The Browns are planning to move Erving to right tackle now that J.C. Tretter is in town, but perhaps the Saints would be interested in seeing what he can do in the middle. Then again, he was shifted to right tackle last year after performing poorly in 12 games at center.
  • Matt Slauson (Chargers): Slauson isn’t guaranteed to start this year thanks to the presence of Max Tuerk, Forrest Lamp, and Dan Feeney. All three players are rookies (Tuerk didn’t play in 2016 thanks to his knee injury) but the team is high on each of them. In theory, Slauson could be shifted over to guard with Tuerk starting in the middle, but it’s also possible that Feeney starts at right guard over him. Slauson would be a valuable swing reserve for Los Angeles, but the Bolts might also be willing to trade him thanks to their glut of O-Line options.
  • Joe Berger (Vikings): Vikings coach Mike Zimmer sees third round rookie Pat Elflein as a center, and that could potentially make Berger expendable. Berger, 35 later this month, has started 68 games over the course of his career. He graded out as the 12th best guard in the entire NFL last season, according to PFF. He earned an even stronger overall score in 2015 when he primarily played in the middle. Berger still has plenty in the tank, so it would be harder to pry him away than some of the other names on this list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Expected To Retain Kendricks, Kelce

Despite being mentioned in trade talks, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and center Jason Kelce are both expected to stick on the Eagles’ roster, head coach Doug Pederson told reporters, including Jimmy Kempski of the Philly Voice and Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com (Twitter links).Mychal Kendricks (vertical)

Philadelphia had placed Kendricks on the trade block as far back as the 2015 draft, but the club was reportedly actively shopping him this offseason. The Eagles were looking for a fifth-round pick in exchange for Kendricks, but no team was willing to meet that ask after $4.35MM of Kendricks’ $4.85MM 2017 base salary became fully guaranteed earlier this month. Kendricks, 26, is signed through the 2019 campaign thanks to an extension inked in August 2015.

A full-time starter during his first four seasons with the Eagles, Kendricks was largely relegated to a reserve role in 2016, as he played on only a quarter of Philadelphia’s defensive snaps. In that span, he racked up 28 tackles and fumble recovery, and earned positive marks for his run defense and pass rushing ability from Pro Football Focus. Kendricks’ coverage grade of 47.7, however, was lacking.

Kelce’s name had also been bandied about in trade discussions, but the Eagles weren’t interested in unloading Kelce simply to clear cap space. Kelce, 29, started all 16 games for the third time in the past four seasons. He posted his worst campaign during that span, however, as Pro Football Focus graded him as just the No. 27 center among 38 qualifiers. Signed through 2020, Kelce has cap charges between $6.2MM and $7.2MM in each of the next four years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.