Jordan Howard

2019 Proven Performance Escalators

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 cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $2MM in 2019. 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 salary rise in 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

Bears: RB Jordan Howard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

Broncos: G Connor McGovern, S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons

Browns: S Derrick Kindred, LB Joe Schobert

Buccaneers: G Caleb Benenoch, DE Carl Nassib, CB Ryan Smith

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown

Chiefs: CB Kendall Fuller, WR Tyreek Hill, S Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson

Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett, T Joe Haeg

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown, DT Maliek Collins, QB Dak Prescott

Dolphins: RB Kenyan Drake

Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, G Wes Schweitzer

Jaguars: DE Yannick Ngakoue

Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Rashard Robinson, T Brandon Shell

Lions: C Graham Glasgow

Packers: LB Kyler Fackrell, DE Dean Lowry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Antonio Morrison

Patriots: G Joe Thuney, LB Elandon Roberts

Rams: G Austin Blythe, TE Tyler Higbee

Ravens: DE Matt Judon, OL Alex Lewis, CB Tavon Young

Saints: DT David Onyemata

Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

Texans: DT D.J. Reader

Titans: S Kevin Byard, WR Tajae Sharpe was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Bears Notes: Nagy, Howard, Long

The Bears and Ravens will square off in the Hall of Fame Game on August 2, so they are the only two teams whose training camps are already underway. Bears camp officially opened on Friday, so let’s take a look at a few notes out of Chicago:

  • Bears fans are excited about the innovations that new head coach Matt Nagy will bring to the offensive side of the football, and Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times believes that excitement is well-founded. Nagy has a great deal of young talent at his disposal, and while much of that talent is unproven, the club certainly has the chance to turn some heads this year. Nagy’s offense is expected to blend Andy Reid‘s West Coast offense with the run-pass options that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich learned under Chip Kelly at Oregon, and it will certainly include creative formations and shifts. Nagy is also open to innovating and experimenting throughout the course of the season as he adjusts to life as an NFL head coach.
  • One key component of the offense, running back Jordan Howard, is making a concerted effort to improve his hands so that he can become a reliable contributor in the passing game, as Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune details. Indeed, Nagy’s offense frequently utilizes running backs as pass catchers, so Howard, who has not offered much as a receiver in his first two years in the league, needs to refine his abilities. For what it’s worth, Nagy believes that Howard can be a true three-down back. Nagy said, “There’s this notion that [Howard] is just a first-and second-down back, and I don’t believe that. Jordan can play all three downs. We’re going to do that. We’re going to use him, and we’re going to use other guys on first and second down when we need to.”
  • In a separate piece, Campbell describes the importance of offensive lineman Kyle Long — who suddenly finds himself as the offense’s second-oldest player — to the Bears’ rebuild. There are a lot of intriguing new and relatively new offensive pieces at the skill positions, but those pieces cannot come together to reach their collective potential without a strong offensive line in place. Long, whose career started out with three consecutive Pro Bowl nods, has finished each of the last two seasons on injured reserve. However, Campbell reports that Long is as close to full health as he has been in two years, and that is critical not just for the Bears’ chances in 2018, but for both player and team from a contractual standpoint. After this season, Chicago could cut Long and save $5.5MM against the cap, so the next few months will go a long way towards determining Long’s future in the Windy City.
  • Kevin White, who entered the league as a 2015 top-10 pick with a ton of promise, has seen the first three years of his professional career ravaged by injury. The Bears declined his fifth-year option earlier this offseason, so he will enter the last year of his rookie contract with a lot to prove. As Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, White has a good chance of making the team’s roster out of training camp, but given the talent that Chicago has added over the past several seasons, he will need to perform very well in camp and in the preseason to earn significant playing time. Finley reports that White looks as good as ever from a physical standpoint, and the fact that he can line up anywhere on the field in Nagy’s offense will only help his cause.

Bears’ Jordan Howard To Be “Main Guy”

Earlier this year, Bears running back Jordan Howard was the subject of trade speculation. Based on what Howard has been hearing, there should be no more questions about his place on the team. 

[RELATED: Former Bears LB Shea McClellin Leaning Towards Retirement]

[New head coach Matt Nagy] already said I’m going to be the main guy,” Howard said (via Adam L. Jahns of the Sun Times).

Nagy has also indicated that Howard is in for a big workload, though he cautioned that his offense doesn’t require a bell-cow back in every game. With Howard penciled in for a significant number of carries, it seems unlikely that he’ll be shipped out, which jibes with what the team told him in April.

Howard, a fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft, has easily topped 1,000 rushing yards in each of his two NFL seasons. Given that Howard as a firm grip on the top RB spot over backups Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham, and Taquan Mizzell, he could have another highly productive year on the horizon.

Howard is one of the better running backs in the league and also one of the very best values at the position. He is under contract for another two years with modest cap hits of $692K in 2018 and $782K in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Won’t Trade Jordan Howard

Despite some rumblings this offseason of a potential Jordan Howard deal, the running back has been assured that he is staying put. When asked about the speculation on Tuesday, Howard told reporters that Bears executives told his agent that they have “no plans” to trade him (Twitter link via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune). 

Howard’s own reaction to the trade speculation this offseason only fueled the buzz. At one point, Howard removed all of his Bears-related photos from his Instagram page. Howard dismissed a question regarding that as well, saying there was “nothing to it.”

Howard, a fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft, has been solid for Chicago over the last two seasons. He boasts a career average of 4.6 yards per carry and last year he topped 1,100 yards with nine touchdowns. He also hauled in 23 catches for 125 yards in 2017.

If the Bears ever did entertain a trade for Howard, they probably set the asking price pretty high. Not only is Howard productive, but he’s also one of the league’s best values at running back. He is under contract for another two seasons with modest charges of $692K in 2018 and $782K in 2019.

The Bears have yet to make any changes to their running back group this offseason. Reserve Benny Cunningham was the only free agent of note at the position and he was re-signed in early April after meeting with the Saints and Bucs. The Bears may look to add a supporting running back in the draft, but Howard remains their top option.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Not Looking To Trade Jordan Howard

There will be plenty of roster turnover for the Bears this offseason, but it sounds like Jordan Howard is staying put. The Bears have “zero desire” to trade the running back, sources tell Ian Rapoport of (Twitter link). Jordan Howard (vertical)

On Saturday afternoon, a report from NBC Sports Chicago ignited some Twitter buzz about a potential swap involving Howard and Jarvis Landry of the Dolphins. The Bears do have interest in Landry, but they apparently do not have interest in parting with Howard in order to bring him to Chicago. To that end, a league source tells Mike Florio of PFT that there is “no way” a Landry-for-Howard swap will go down.

Howard has turned in two quality seasons for the Bears with a combined average of 4.6 yards per carry. Last year, Howard started in every game for the Bears and ran for 1,122 yards and nine touchdowns off of 276 carries. He also added 23 catches for 125 yards.

A former fifth round pick, Howard remains under contract for two more seasons with cap charges of just $692K and $782K. Naturally, he is the kind of player that Chicago is intent on keeping.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Notes: Glennon, Trubisky, Howard

The Bears have not yet had a discussion about replacing starter Mike Glennon with fellow quarterback Mitch Trubisky, according to Ian Rapoport of (video link). Through two games (both Chicago losses), Glennon has completed 67.1% of his passes for 514 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. He currently ranks 21st in quarterback rating and 25th in adjusted net yards per attempt, while the Bears’ passing offense is just 26th in DVOA.

Here’s more from the Windy City:

  • Running back Jordan Howard is playing through a sprained AC joint, tweets Rapoport, who adds the injury could help explain why some scouts believe the Bears second-year back is running “tentatively.” Howard, who topped 1,300 yards on the ground in 2016 after entering the league as a fifth-round pick, has seen his snap percentage decrease this season as rookie Tarik Cohen takes on more passing game responsibility. Heading into today’s game Howard had managed just 2.7 yards per carry, but he’s already managed 46 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers in Week 3.
  • While the Bears originally believed Nick Kwiatkoski was done for the year after suffering a pectoral injury last week, the linebacker’s health issue may not be season-ending, per Rapoport (Twitter link). While Kwiatkoski will miss several games, he’s likely to be available later this year. That’s an extremely positive development for Chicago, which had already placed starting linebacker Jerrell Freeman on injured reserve.
  • Can the Bears rebound from their 0-2 start? Not according to PFR readers, who ranked Chicago as one of the least likeliest winless teams to perform better down the stretch. Check out the rest of the poll results and add your own thoughts here.

NFC Notes: Cards, Fitzgerald, Bears, Howard

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald told San Francisco cornerback Jimmie Ward he tore “something” in the second quarter of yesterday’s game (Twitter link via Josh Weinfuss of Fitzgerald will have an MRI today to determine the severity of his injury.

Through nine games this season, Fitzgerald has hauled in 68 catches – second in the NFL to only Antonio Brown – with 687 yards and five touchdowns. Losing Fitzgerald for an extended period would sting for Arizona and they’ll be hoping for the best when those scans come back. In a worst case scenario, Fitzgerald’s 2017 season is still guaranteed thanks to the terms of his recent extension.

Here’s more out of the NFC:

  • Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard suffered a possible Achilles tendon injury in Sunday’s loss to the Bucs, coach John Fox said (via Mark E. Ortega of Howard, a rookie out of Indiana, was thrust into a starting role earlier this year when Jeremy Langford was lost to injury. Langford is back in action now, but the Bears were still relying on him as their top ballcarrier. For the year, he has averaged 5.3 yards per attempt. We should know more about Howard’s status soon.
  • The Vikings should have traded for a tackle before the deadline, Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune opines. The Vikings were relying on fragile veteran Jake Long to hold down a starting tackle spot but that plan blew up in their face last week when he suffered an Achilles injury. Before that went down, Reusse believes that cap guru Rob Brzezinski should have figured out a way to carve out cap room to allow Minnesota to add a much-needed lineman. Now, Minnesota is forced to start T.J. Clemmings on the left side.
  • Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory was hit with yet another suspension for drug use, but owner Jerry Jones says that the team is not giving up on him.

Impact Rookies: Chicago Bears

The old adage that defense wins championships may or may not be true, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title-winning team that didn’t build heavily through the draft. Rookie classes, naturally, are evaluated on the perceived upside of the NFL newcomers, but which rookies are ready to contribute right out of the gate? And, how do they fit in with their new team schematically?

To help us forecast the immediate future of these NFL neophytes, we enlisted the help of draft guru Dave-Te Thomas who has served as a scouting personnel consultant to NFL teams for multiple decades.

First Round – Leonard Floyd, OLB (Georgia, No. 9 overall)

The Bears came into the draft looking to improve the talent on both of their lines. But, they instead traded up from No. 11 to No. 9 to land Georgia ‘backer Leonard Floyd. Hopefully, he survives the rigors of training camp, as his professional debut saw him carted off the practice field after he was overcome by the heat and scrimmage action. Leonard Floyd

When the NFL teams arrived in Athens for the Georgia March 17th Pro Day, they not only wanted to see how Floyd performed in drills, they also wanted to figure out what his best position might be. . That has been the “pleasant” problem for Georgia coaches during the last three years – where to put their top playmaker. It was not as if he could not perform at any of these positions, but more so that he was needed elsewhere to fill the voids created by injuries or poor performances by others. Since first putting on the Georgia uniform, Floyd played all the “name” game positions – Jack, Sam, Mike and Will. He’s lined up as a rush end and even played inside as a defensive tackle for three contests late in the 2014 campaign.

Wherever he has played, Floyd has done so at a high level. He started 32-of-38 games at various positions while recording 184 tackles that saw him deliver 33 of those stops behind the line of scrimmage. He got in on twenty quarterback sacks and pressured opposing passers 54 times. On five of those plays in the backfield, he caused fumbles, recovering two to set up Georgia touchdown drives. All in all, a good day of work is usually the norm for Floyd on Saturdays. Now, he’s likely ticketed for the outside linebacker position on Sundays with Chicago.

Floyd has never been known for being a bulky guy and his thin frame did draw considerable concerns from scouts who analyzed him in 2014. He played at 237 last season after checking in at 220 during his first two years, but impressed team decision-makers with his 244-pound weigh-in at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. While his frame is likely at a maximum growth potential, he demonstrated to the Bears that he has plenty of strength and also eased concerns about his surgically repaired shoulder.

Floyd has that quick first step that will usually see him gain advantage on a slower offensive lineman. He can get up field quickly and reaches the corners with good urgency to push the outside running game back in. He flashes that burst to surprise a lethargic blocker (see 2015 ULM, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Missouri and Georgia Southern games), which allows him to get instant penetration. He has the lateral range to slip into the backfield when working in-line and with his quick hands and feet, he has no problem retreating and chasing down receivers when working in the second level (might be considered as a Sam linebacker because of this). He has the acceleration to take a wide loop around the corner and still pressure the pocket.

He stays low in his pads and has the loose hips to redirect, also displaying the second gear needed to excel in long pursuit. He is a quick twitch type with very active hands and good balance, keeping his feet on the move while doing a nice job of avoiding low blocks. Because of his shoulder surgery, Floyd was limited a bit early in the year, but as the 2015 season progressed, he showed that he actually was getting stronger and quicker deeper into the games, thanks to his excellent athletic ability. There’s no reason to doubt that he can do the same at the next level.

Continue reading about the Bears’ rookie class..

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Bears Sign Several Draftees, UDFAs

The Bears announced 17 signings today, confirming several previously-reported moves and revealing some new ones (Twitter links). The team has signed seven of its 2016 draft picks and 10 undrafted free agents to fill out its offseason roster.

Of Chicago’s nine draftees, only one – fourth-round defensive back Deiondre’ Hall – had reportedly agreed to terms prior to day. However, the Bears have now locked up six more of their picks to go along with Hall. Here’s the full list of draft picks signed by the club:

A pair of front-seven players – first-rounder Leonard Floyd and third-rounder Jonathan Bullard – have yet to sign their rookie contracts with the Bears, but the team has otherwise secured its draft class.

Meanwhile, in addition to confirming the eight undrafted free agent signings we passed along on Friday, the Bears added two more rookies – Liberty wide receiver Darrin Peterson and Oklahoma State cornerback Kevin Peterson – to their roster. The former received a $6K signing bonus from the team, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Draft Notes: Collins, Clark, Howard

Defensive tackle Maliek Collins announced that he is entering the NFL Draft and foregoing his senior season at Nebraska, as Sam McKewon of the World-Herald writes.

It’s always been a dream of mine, and I got a good grade back (from the NFL’s draft advisory board),” Collins said when asked why he’s headed to the NFL one year early. “I talked it over with my teammates and I talked it over with Coach (Mike) Riley and it seems like the best decision for me.”

Collins, a team captain in 2015, racked up 29 total tackles with 2.5 sacks this season. Many have projected that Collins will go in the first round of the NFL Draft this season and his grade from the NFL draft advisory board likely supported that forecast.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft news:

  • UCLA Bruins junior defensive tackle Kenny Clark announced on Twitter that he will skip his senior year to declare for the draft. NFL talent evaluators are high on the 6’3″, 310-pound junior and he could wind up being a late first-round pick. Clark recorded a sack and season-high eight solo tackles in UCLA’s bowl loss to Nebraska on Dec. 26. For the season, he had 47 tackles and six sacks.
  • Indiana junior running back Jordan Howard announced that he will forego his senior season and enter the 2016 Draft. A first team All-Big Ten selection, Howard entered the bowl season second in the Big Ten with 134.8 rushing yards per game (9th nationally) and 146.6 all-purpose yards per game (15th). Injuries have been an issue for Howard in the past, but he is considered by some to be one of the five best tailbacks in this year’s class. One has to imagine that his medical exams will play a big factor in where he lands.
  • University of Miami junior cornerback Artie Burns announced that he has elected to forgo his final year of college eligibility and declare for the draft. “After considering all the options, and looking into my future, I feel it is in my best interest to forego my senior year and declare for the NFL Draft,” Burns said in a statement. “I can’t put into words what these past three years have meant to me in my development as a football player but even more importantly as a man.” Burns could wind up as a consensus top five corner in this year’s class depending on what others at his position do.
  • Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Cayleb Jones took to Twitter to announce that he is going pro. The 6’3″ athlete is rated as the No. 23 junior wide receiver prospect by and he appears to be taking a risk by jumping to the NFL. Jones originally committed to the Texas and played in 10 games as a frosh before transferring to Arizona and sitting out for one year. While at Texas, Jones picked up a felony assault charge that was ultimately reduced to a misdemeanor.
  • The Texas Longhorns announced that junior defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway has decided to go pro. An honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in 2015, Ridgeway played in 36 career games with 18 starts. In that time, he recorded 92 tackles with 9.5 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. Ridgeway is rated as the No. 5 nose tackle by and his stock could rise if any of the three underclassmen ranked ahead of him opt to stay in school.
  • Washington junior running back Dwayne Washington will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft, as Adam Jude of the Seattle Times writes. Washington did not play in UW’s final four games because of a knee injury, an issue which required minor surgery. The tailback started six games for UW this season and finished as UW’s second-leading rusher with 282 yards. His seven total touchdowns were also second-most on the team. Washington garnered attention in 2014 when he converted from wide receiver to running back, though his frame still looks like that of a receiver.