Jonathan Cooper

Redskins Sign G Jonathan Cooper

The Redskins’ offensive line depth chart looks incredibly different a day after the group was ravaged during a Week 9 loss to the Falcons. Multiple starters are now on IR and new faces will have to acclimate quickly.

Another newcomer will be Jonathan Cooper. The former top-10 pick-turned-journeyman signed with the Redskins on Monday. Cooper has not played this season. The 49ers signed him to a near-$5MM deal this offseason but cut him after the preseason’s conclusion.

Washington lost starting guards Brandon Scherff and Shaun Lauvao, who have since been placed on IR. Trent Williams is also dealing with an injury. Veteran Austin Howard is now on the team. So is Luke Bowanko, who joined Cooper and Howard in agreeing to terms Monday.

The Redskins also worked out offensive linemen Chris Scott, Zac Kerin and Matt McCants. Instead, they opted for some higher-profile blockers in Howard, Cooper and Bowanko. Washington remains in first place in the NFC East, sitting at 5-3, but the blowout loss to Atlanta suddenly has this somewhat surprising run in jeopardy of fizzling. The Eagles are one game back.

Cooper worked out for the Ravens in September. This latest mid-Atlantic trek is the only other known audition in which the former Cardinals first-rounder is known to have participated. Although he’s bounced around, the North Carolina alum started 13 games as the Cowboys’ left guard last season. That landed him a one-year, $4.95MM 49ers contract. But that stay was brief. San Francisco opted to go with Mike Person over Cooper as a starter.

Bowanko spent time with the Patriots this offseason but didn’t make their 53-man roster out of camp. He worked out for the Browns and Bears earlier this season.

NFL Workout Updates: 9/17/18

Today’s workout updates, with all links going to NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s of Twitter account unless otherwise noted:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • TE Nick O’Leary (link)

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins

49ers Release OG Jonathan Cooper

A former first-rounder is now looking for a new gig. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the 49ers are releasing offensive guard Jonathan Cooper.

After being selected as the seventh-overall pick in the 2013 draft, Cooper spent the first three years of his career with the Cardinals. He was traded to the Patriots in the Chandler Jones deal back in 2016, but he didn’t last the entire season in New England. Since then, he’s spent time with the Browns, Cowboys, and 49ers.

After appearing in only five games during the 2016 campaign, Cooper ended up starting each of his 13 appearances in 2017 with Dallas.

Cooper’s release will boost the chances of several lineman to make the 49ers’ roster. This grouping includes Garry Gilliam, Joshua Garnett, and Erik Magnuson.

NFC West Rumors: Donald, Wright, Cards

The Rams seem to be preparing their fans for a contract coronation soon, continuing to declare they’re near the goal line of the Aaron Donald negotiations. After Sean McVay made comments about the Donald deal being close to completed, Rams GM Les Snead confirmed this two-offseason saga is nearing completion. He added, via Pro Football Talk, nothing’s been agreed to just yet. After Donald reported into the regular season and won defensive player of the year acclaim despite being in a new defense, the fifth-year player’s late arrival probably won’t mean much to the Rams. But the results of this process will be plenty important for Khalil Mack and others seeking to raise a defensive salary ceiling that’s remained stagnant for two years as quarterbacks’ wages have skyrocketed.

Over the past year alone, the top of the QB market has climbed by 24 percent, with Joel Corry of CBS Sports tweeting Donald or Mack will have to sign for a $23.66MM deal to match that kind of increase. Von Miller‘s $19MM-AAV agreement — signed in July 2016, when the highest-paid quarterback wasn’t yet making $25MM per year — remains the top defender contract.

More from the NFC West, moving to another longtime defensive starter, here:

  • A Seahawks defense that already jettisoned four Super Bowl-era starters this offseason may be without another in Week 1. K.J. Wright underwent surgery on Monday and probably won’t be ready when the Seahawks face the Broncos next Sunday, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. Pete Carroll categorized this procedure as a “cleanup” but said a couple of weeks would be the most optimistic timeline. Shaquem Griffin‘s first start, then, figures to occur sooner than expected. Condotta confirms the fifth-round rookie will start if Wright can’t go.
  • Jonathan Cooper went from signing a near-$5MM contract with the 49ers this spring to possibly being a post-preseason casualty. A slow recovery from knee surgery has Cooper on the 49ers’ bubble, Corry notes. Cutting Cooper, who is behind Mike Person and Joshua Garnett at right guard, would cost the team $4.48MM in dead money.
  • Two notable names appear to be competing for the final Cardinals receiver spot. Former Cowboys rotational cog Brice Butler signed a two-year Cardinals deal but is not a lock to make the team. He and one-time Browns second-round pick Greg Little, who hasn’t played since 2014, may be vying for one job, with Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com writing he wouldn’t be surprised if Little beats out Butler. He has Butler making the team ahead of Little, however. A Butler cut would cost the Cards $500K in dead money.

NFC West Rumors: 49ers, Suh, Seahawks

Because of the lack of a solidified position, Jimmie Ward has enjoyed a unique start to his career. He’s been shuttled between cornerback and safety throughout his run with the 49ers, and despite returning to play for the same defensive coordinator in a second consecutive for the first time as a pro, Ward still doesn’t have a surefire position. Robert Saleh used him at safety last season after Jim O’Neil stationed him at cornerback in 2016. He saw action at both spots under Eric Mangini in 2015. Now, the 49ers are again ready to see if he can play outside corner again.

Jimmie Ward is a guy who’s played some outside corner in his career,” John Lynch said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “We’re going to experiment with that this offseason and see if that’s viable and give him some time there.”

The 49ers have Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon penciled in as cornerback starters, and Maiocco reports they don’t intend to re-sign Eric Reid. So, keeping Ward at safety would make more sense from a personnel standpoint. But the team nevertheless intends to persist experimenting with the fifth-year player as a corner. However, Maiocco notes the 49ers view 2017 seventh-rounder Adrian Colbert as a possible starting-caliber safety alongside Jaquiski Tartt.

Here’s the latest from the NFC West:

  • Speaking of positioning, the Rams will play Ndamukong Suh at nose tackle in their 3-4 base set, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports. Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers will play outside in Wade Phillips‘ base set, and Suh will play a position at which he’s lined up around 3 percent of his career, per Gonzalez. “Those are things that we talked about with Ndamukong,” Sean McVay said earlier this week. “We wanted to make sure, ‘Hey, do you feel good about the way we envision you?” Suh, who’s played only for teams that utilized 4-3 sets in his eight-year career, will see plenty of time as a 4-3 defensive tackle once the Rams are in sub packages. Los Angeles used sub sets 70 percent of the time last season.
  • Expected to be in the mix for wide receivers this offseason, the 49ers instead backed off of this year’s top UFA targets. Maiocco reports they weren’t interested in either Sammy Watkins or Allen Robinson but are expected to target a wideout in the draft. “What you don’t want to do is have a bunch of guys who are OK but are paid like the best,” Kyle Shanahan said. “That’s where you get in trouble and have to stay away from in free agency. It’s usually why the draft is the best way to go.” San Francisco extended Marquise Goodwin this offseason and has Pierre Garcon due back as well.
  • UFA signee Jonathan Cooper will line up at right guard initially for the 49ers. Laken Tomlinson will slot in at left guard, per Maiocco, who adds a slimmed-down Joshua Garnett will compete with Cooper for the right guard job. Tomlinson started 15 games at left guard for the 49ers last season. Last year’s right guard, Brandon Fusco, left in free agency. A 2016 first-rounder, Garnett started 11 games as a rookie.
  • The Seahawks are again in need of a backup quarterback. The team waived Trevone Boykin, and Austin Davis remains unsigned. Colin Kaepernick does not appear to be in the team’s plans, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. Kaepernick visited the Seahawks last year before the team signed Davis. Geno Smith met with the team this week, and Mark Sanchez has also been linked to Seattle. Sanchez’s former backup with the Jets, Kellen Clemens, also has ties to new Seahawks OC Brian Schottenheimer. The 34-year-old backup could interest the Seahawks, per Henderson. Clemens also worked under Schottenheimer with the Rams.

Contract Details: Burnett, Bodine, Williams

Let’s take a look at the most recent new contracts around the NFL:

AFC

NFC

49ers Sign G Jonathan Cooper

The 49ers have signed guard Jonathan Cooper, according to a team press release. It’s a one-year deal for the former Cowboys lineman. 

“Having started 27 games in four NFL seasons, Jonathan brings great experience to the interior of our offensive line,” said GM John Lynch in a press release. “We look forward to him competing for a starting job at guard, while also bringing a veteran presence to our locker room. Jonathan is a welcome addition to our team.”

Cooper was selected No. 7 overall by the Cardinals in the 2013 draft. At UNC, Cooper was a three-time All-ACC player and earned a First-Team All-American selection in his senior year. Things did not go according to plan at the next level, however, and he has since spent time with the Patriots, Browns, and Cowboys. He had a bounce back year in Dallas, however, as he started each of the Cowboys’ final 13 games at left guard.

Cooper graded out as the No. 35 guard in the NFL last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Last year, Laken Tomlinson was the only full-time guard on the Niners to place higher.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

Read more

NFC Notes: Hawks, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys

ESPN’s Seth Wickersham reported Thursday that Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has been holding a grudge against both quarterback Russell Wilson and head coach Pete Caroll since the team’s devastating Super Bowl XLIX loss to the Patriots in 2015. But Sherman and defensive end Michael Bennett insist that’s not true (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com). “It’s just a bunch of nonsense from ‘anonymous’ sources. Can never put much gravity of things like that,” said Sherman, who, according to Wickersham, “allowed himself to imagine playing for the Cowboys” when Seattle placed him on the trade block earlier this spring. Bennett, meanwhile, dismissed the article as “trash” and “all gossip.”

The latest from the NFC East…

  • In an interview with 105.1 FM in New York on Thursday, now-Bears wide receiver Victor Cruz implied that the Giants didn’t involve him in their offense more last year because they knew they’d release him in the offseason (per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY). “Halfway through the year, you’re like, ‘OK, I’m balling,’ and then the other half I’m not getting the ball,” he said. “And you’re just like, ‘What’s going on?’ It was like, ‘OK, I see what’s happening. They don’t want me here anymore.’” Continued Cruz, who caught 39 of 72 targets in 2016: “If I played well, they owed me a ton of money that next year. So it was like, ‘let’s get Cruz off the books.'” Unsurprisingly, head coach Ben McAdoo refuted Cruz’s claims, telling reporters that “there is no accuracy” to the wideout’s theory (via Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today).
  • Cutting receiver Nelson Agholor would cost the Eagles more money than they’d save ($4.68MM versus $2.56MM), but his roster spot nonetheless looks to be in jeopardy, writes Andrew Kulp of CSNPhilly.com. Philadelphia signed two proven receivers in March, Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, to join Jordan Matthews, which could further marginalize Agholor. A first-round pick just two years ago, Agholor caught only 59 of 114 targets and three touchdowns from 2015-16.
  • It continues to look as though Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins will move to right tackle after functioning as a left guard during his first two seasons. Collins has lined up solely at right tackle during organized team activities this week and will likely continue to do so leading up to the season, according to Kate Hairopoulos and Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. The position opened up in Dallas when starter Doug Free retired earlier this offseason, and if Collins fills it, either Jonathan Cooper or Emmett Cleary could take over at left guard, per Hairopoulos and George.

Contract Details: Foles, Carr, Poe, Cowboys

Here’s a fun fact from Albert Breer of The MMQB (Twitter links): Of the 155 free-agent contracts that have been filed since March 9, only 23 have more than $3MM fully guaranteed in post-2017 money. In essence, that means 85.2% of the contracts done over the last ten days are one-year deals with team options.

Now for the latest contract details:

  • Cornerback Brandon Carr‘s four-year, $23MM Ravens contract comes with $6MM in 2017 – most of which is by way of a $4MM signing bonus – and then the Ravens will have a 2018 team option, reports Breer (on Twitter).
  • Falcons defensive tackle Dontari Poe‘s one-year, $8MM accord features a $500K signing bonus and incentives for playing time, sacks and a Pro Bowl appearance (Twitter link via Breer).
  • Quarterback Nick Folespreviously reported two-year, $11MM deal with the Eagles is actually a five-year, $27.5MM pact, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. However, the final three years of the contract will void if Foles is still on Philadelphia’s roster 23 days before the start of the 2019 league year. The arrangement comes with $5MM in incentives and an esclator for 2018 worth as much as $6MM (Twitter links).
  • Panthers defensive tackle Kyle Love‘s two-year contract is worth $2.2MM and features a few bonuses – $200K for signing, $25K for workouts and $10K per game active – as well as $500K in annual incentives, tweets Wilson.
  • Cowboys running back Darren McFadden‘s one-year contract is a minimum salary benefit deal worth $980K (a salary of $900K and an $80K signing bonus). Guard Jonathan Cooper‘s single-year accord is worth $2MM and has a $31,250 bonus per game active, $500K in incentives and a $100K workout base de-esclator (Twitter links via Wilson).
  • Cardinals running back/wide receiver Andre Ellington will earn a $775K base salary on his one-year agreement, tweets Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910.
  • Redskins defensive tackle Ziggy Hood’s two-year, $2.7MM deal includes a $300K signing bonus, per-game active bonuses of $15,625 each, $600K in incentives and a $600K escalator. Meanwhile, the Redskins gave linebacker Chris Carter a minimum salary benefit deal worth $855K, including $775K in salary and a signing bonus of $80K, relays Wilson (Twitter links).
  • Saints running back Travaris Cadet also got a minimum salary benefit contract for 2017, says Wilson (Twitter link). It’s worth $855K ($775K in salary and an $80K signing bonus).

Zach Links contributed to this post.