Jeff Heath

Raiders To Sign Jeff Heath

Cowboys safety Jeff Heath becomes the third member of America’s team to depart for the Raiders organization today. Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reports that Heath agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $8MM to join the Raiders in their inaugural season in Las Vegas.

Heath has spent his entire seven-year career in Dallas since joining the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent out of Saginaw Valley State. Primarily a special teamer for much of his tenure, Heath became a starting defensive back over the previous three seasons. In his career, Heath has appeared in 106 games (54 starts) and made 346 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 8 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles.

Raiders starting strong safety Karl Joseph remains a free agent and so Heath appears well-positioned to at least have a chance to compete for a starting spot in Sin City.

NFC East Notes: Okudah, Groh, Heath, Jones

While there’s still plenty of time until the NFL Draft, but murmurs around the combine are tying the Giants to cornerback Jeff Okudah, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the NY Post. Okudah is considered the best defensive back prospect in the draft class and is expected to be a top-five pick. In his final season at Ohio State, Okudah recorded three interceptions, nine passes defended, 34 tackles, and, perhaps most impressive of all, zero holding or defensive pass interference penalties.

Here are some more notes from around the NFC East;

  • The Eagles made a number of changes on their coaching staff following a disappointing season. Most notably, Philadelphia fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh, but sources familiar with the situation tell Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer that head coach Doug Pederson told Groh he would be retained for a third season. Instead, the team fired Groh alongside offensive assistants Rich Scangarello and Andrew Breiner. While there’s no direct consequence, it’s not the ideal way to conduct business.
  • Longtime Cowboy safety and defensive back Jeff Heath has received interest from a number of teams, including Dallas, as he nears free agency, per Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News. Watkins notes that things will pick up after the league and NFLPA resolve their CBA negotiations.
  • As previously reported, the Giants officially hired Amos Jones to join Joe Judge‘s coaching staff. Jones’ position on the staff had not been previously known. According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, Jones will serve as an “assistant coach/special projects and situations.”

Cowboys’ Jeff Heath Undergoes Surgery

On Friday, Cowboys safety Jeff Heath underwent surgery on his left shoulder, sources tell ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). Heath dealt with pain in both shoulders throughout the year and he may still require an operation on the other side. 

Somehow, the shoulder trouble did not interrupt his streak of starting in the last 44 games he has played. He finished 2019 with 59 total tackles, three tackles for a loss, and seven passes defensed in 13 appearances.

Heath will look to heal up as soon as possible, especially since this is a pivotal offseason for him. He’s due to reach unrestricted free agency in March, where he’ll look to secure a pay bump over the four-year, $7.761MM extension he signed with the Cowboys back in 2016. Last time around, he was a restricted free agent who spent the previous two years largely relegated to special teams. Now, with three straight years as a starter, he has a case for a better deal.

Top free agent safeties this offseason include Justin Simmons (Broncos), Devin McCourty (Patriots), Anthony Harris (Vikings), Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Bears), and Tre Boston (Panthers).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Schobert, Panthers, Chargers

Joe Schobert is having one of his best NFL seasons, but the Browns haven’t reached out about signing the impending free agent. The linebacker told reporters that he hasn’t received any offers from the organization (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com on Twitter).

The former fourth-rounder earned a Pro Bowl nod back in 2017, and he’s followed that up with two additional 100-plus-tackle seasons. That includes the current 2019 campaign, as Schobert has compiled 110 tackles, two sacks, nine passes defended, four interceptions, and a pair of forced fumbles.

If the linebacker were to hit free agency, there would surely be teams lining up for his services. For what it’s worth, Schobert told reporters that in a “perfect world,” he’d be in a Cleveland uniform come 2020.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Kyle Allen has filled in admirably for Cam Newton, but it doesn’t sound like he has a solid hold on the Panthers starting gig for the rest of the season. Interim head coach Perry Fewell told reporters that the quarterback situation is a “day to day, week to week situation” (via The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue on Twitter). Even if Allen doesn’t struggle, it makes sense for Carolina to see what they’ve got in rookie third-rounder Will Grier. The West Virginia product hasn’t seen the field this season, while Allen has tossed 16 touchdowns vs. 12 interceptions in his 11 games (11 starts).
  • Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said it was a “coach’s decision” to send home linebacker Denzel Perryman and safety Roderic Teamer on Saturday, according to Jeff Miller of the LA Times (on Twitter). ESPN’s Eric Williams tweets that the pair missed a morning meeting in Jacksonville, all leading to Lynn’s decision. Perryman has started 11 games this season, while Teamer has appeared in seven games.
  • Cowboys safety Jeff Heath said he may need shoulder surgery to repair labrum damage (via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas News on Twitter). The 28-year-old continues to play through the injury, and Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets that there’s hope Heath can avoid the procedure until the offseason. The safety has started 10 games this season, compiling 45 tackles and five passes defended.

Contract Details: Hillman, Browner, Heath

Here are the details of some recently-signed contracts:

  • Ronnie Hillman, RB (Broncos): One year, $2MM. $600K guaranteed, including $400K of base salary. $100K signing bonus, $100K workout bonus (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Brandon Browner, CB (Seahawks): One year, minimum salary benefit. $428K split (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Jeff Heath, S (Cowboys): Four years, $7.761MM. $1.8MM signing bonus. Annual $100K workout de-escalator. $500K NLTBE playtime incentives in 2018 and 2019 (Twitter links via Wilson).
  • Josh Brown, K (Giants): Two years, $4MM. $1MM guaranteed. $750K available via playtime incentives and escalators (Twitter links via Wilson).
  • Greg Zuerlein, K (Rams): One year, $1.25MM. $675K guaranteed, including $275K of base salary (Twitter link via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
  • Chase Reynolds, RB (Rams): One year, $862K. $200K guaranteed. $87K roster bonus (Twitter link via Thomas).

NFC East Rumors: Eagles, Cox, Cowboys, Hoyer

The Eagles were reportedly in discussions with the Titans about a potential trade for the No. 1 pick before Tennessee sent that pick to Los Angeles. Asked today about how serious those talks were, Howie Roseman downplayed them, suggesting that his team was doing its “due diligence,” as Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

“I wouldn’t consider any discussions [serious] with any teams until you make deals,” Roseman, the de-facto Eagles GM, said. “I think it’s the same discussion with teams behind us. We’re having those discussions now. Teams in front us. We just have those conversations internally and weigh the cost-benefit of everything.”

While Roseman left the door open for plenty of trade possibilities, he shut at least one door, telling reporters today that the Eagles are “not trading” Fletcher Cox (Twitter links via Berman). Roseman made it clear that the team isn’t playing the “leverage game” with Cox, and plans on extending him and keeping him in Philadelphia for a long time.

Let’s check in on some other NFC East items….

  • The Cowboys wouldn’t mind landing a veteran backup for Tony Romo, and would have interest in Brian Hoyer “at the right price,” a source tells Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. However, Williams cautions that Hoyer will likely be able to get more money – and perhaps the chance to compete for a starting job – with another team.
  • In a conversation with TMZ Sports, free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie admitted that his “dream choice” for his new team would be the Cowboys. “[Dallas] is very high on my list,” Cromartie said.
  • Jeff Heath‘s new four-year contract with the Cowboys is worth $7.671MM, including a $1.8MM signing bonus, writes Todd Archer of ESPN.com. The defensive back and special-teamer also saw his cap number for 2016 reduced a little, going from $1.671MM to $1.35MM.
  • John Keim of ESPN.com breaks down the keys to success for Washington in 2016, identifying some players to watch and suggesting that the team should address its defensive line in the draft.

Cowboys Sign Jeff Heath To Four-Year Deal

Restricted free agent Jeff Heath will be sticking with the Cowboys, as expected, but rather than simply signing his RFA tender, the veteran safety has agreed to a long-term deal with the club. According to Todd Archer of ESPN.com, the Cowboys have signed Heath to a four-year contract, locking him up through the 2019 season.Jeff Heath

An undrafted free agent out of Saginaw Valley State, Heath started nine games during his first season with the Cowboys in 2013, compiling 60 tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. He has seen less time on defense in recent years, serving primarily as a special teams contributor, but he did grab a pair of INTs in his 206 defensive snaps in 2015.

Having spent three years in Dallas, Heath was eligible for restricted free agency this offseason, and the Cowboys tendered him a one-year offer worth $1.671MM. Had he signed that tender, he would have been on track to reach the open market in 2017, but his salary for 2016 would have been non-guaranteed.

Financial terms of Heath’s new four-year contract aren’t yet known, but there’s a good chance he exceeded that $1.671MM in guarantees alone, and his average annual salary may very well top that figure too.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Use Second-Round Tender On Ronald Leary

The Cowboys have placed a second-round tender on restricted free agent guard Ronald Leary, according to ESPN.com’s Todd Archer. The tender would pay Leary $2.553MM in 2016. Meanwhile, safety Jeff Heath was given the low tender worth $1.671MM. Ronald Leary (vertical)

Leary was on the field for 137 pass snaps and 84 run snaps this season, according to the stats compiled by Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Although he did not qualify to be ranked based on that limited sample size, Leary was given an overall grade of 72.2, which would have placed him near the backend of the top 30.

In other Cowboys news, we recently learned that quarterback Tony Romo will go under the knife next week to have a “Mumford procedure” on his collarbone, rather than having a plate inserted. Meanwhile, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told Gil Brandt of NFL.com that he will not take a QB with the No. 4 overall pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Vick, Smith, Jets, Bills, Cowboys

It appears that the much-anticipated battle between Michael Vick and Geno Smith for the Jets starting quarterback job is over before it even started.

“Geno’s the starting quarterback for that football team,” Vick told Dom Cosentino of NJ.com at a family fitness event Saturday.

“Ultimately our goal is to try to help Geno become the best quarterback that he can be. Myself and [third-stringer Matt Simms] are all trying to put him in a position where he can get better from year one or year two.”

Vick, who signed a one-year deal worth $5MM with the Jets in March, was expected to push Smith for the job in training camp.

More notes from the AFC and NFC East divisions…

  • Despite a brew of veteran (Vick), potential (Smith) and developmental (Simms) quarterbacks on the roster, the Jets are not ruling out the possibility of adding another signal-caller in the draft, writes Brian Costello of the New York Post.
  • Three months could be all that stands in between the Bills and a new owner, the Associated Press’ John Wawrow reports. It’s possible that a sale could come by July, and approval of the sale by October.
  • In more Bills ownership talk, Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News says the former owner of the Montreal Canadiens, Colorado businessman George Gillett, is not expected to attempt to purchase the team.
  • The Cowboys are unlikely to throw max money at running back DeMarco Murray, ESPNDallas.com’s Todd Archer writes in his Twitter mailbag. Murray’s in the final season of a four-year rookie deal, having entered the league in 2011 as a third-round draft pick from Oklahoma.
  • Look for second-year player J.J. Wilcox to be Dallas’ starting safety opposite Barry Church in 2014, says Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News. Drafted No. 80 overall in 2013, Wilcox totaled 38 tackles in 13 games played as a rookie, but lost his job to undrafted rookie Jeff Heath midway through the season.
  • Alex Smith of PhiladelphiaEagles.com previews the team’s offensive line situation, dishing out insight on depth behind the starters and what year No. 2 will be like for 2013 first-round pick Lane Johnson.
  • With not much of a track record to go off, Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey has Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel stumped as to how the team’s No. 1 personnel man will work the upcoming draft.