Kelechi Osemele

AFC Notes: Ngakoue, Jets, Board

After passing along a few NFC items earlier tonight, let’s round out the evening with some news and notes from the AFC:

  • Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue skipped minicamp as part of his push for a new contract, and Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com expects the Maryland product’s efforts to pay off. Speaking to Phillip Hellman of the Florida Times-Union, Fitzgerald says Ngakoue will land a deal with an AAV of at least $21MM and total guarantees of at least $65MM. That would put Ngakoue, who is entering the last year of his rookie contract, at the top of the DE market, but the 24-year-old sack artist has a strong case for that type of payday.
  • New Jets GM Joe Douglas was hired after all of the big free agency bucks were spent, but Matt Stypulkoski of NJ.com looks at the assets Douglas will have at his disposal in 2020. Gang Green is expected to have roughly $46MM in cap room, just 17th-most in the league, though Stypulkoski examines a few ways for the club to easily create more space. He names guard Kelechi Osemele and linebacker Avery Williamson as potential cap casualties next offseason.
  • Now that C.J. Mosley is in New York, the Ravens have a void at inside linebacker, and 2018 UDFA Chris Board could fill it. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic says Board has shot up the team’s depth chart and has a legitimate shot at opening the season as Baltimore’s weak-side ‘backer.
  • Now that Christian Covington is in Dallas, the Texans expect third-year DE Carlos Watkins to have a significantly increased role in 2019, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. The 2017 fourth-rounder played in just four games last year, but he is 13 pounds lighter, and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver said he has “sky-high” expectations for Watkins.

AFC Notes: Jets, Raiders, Broncos, Hardman

During the hours leading up to the draft’s second night, the Jets were calling teams — the Seahawks, Colts and others — about trading way up into the second round. That did not end up happening. The Jets, who traded their Round 2 pick to the Colts last year for the right to move up to draft Sam Darnold, made the calls because of a desire to add one of the high-end cornerbacks available to start Day 2, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports. Gang Green sought to jump into the top five of the second round, per Mehta, but they could not come to terms on a deal. Such a jump — from No. 68 into the 30s — would have required a significant draft capital subtraction. The Jets also had a deal with the Eagles to make a less costly move — up to No. 57 — to draft Mecole Hardman, but the Chiefs beat them to it. Corners Byron Murphy, Rock Ya-Sin, Sean Bunting and Trayvon Mullen all went off the board in the first eight picks Friday.

At corner, the Jets have 2018 free agent signing Trumaine Johnson and 2019 addition Brian Poole. As of now, they may be asking Darryl Roberts to be a starter. With no draft picks spent on the position, the Jets may still be on the lookout for help here.

Here is the latest post-draft news from the AFC:

  • The Raiders hoped to trade down from their No. 4 slot, but no calls came, Peter King of NBC Sports notes. Just about every high-end prospect was connected to the Raiders during the pre-draft process, but the team instead went with what most perceived as a bit of a reach in Clelin Ferrell. However, taking the Clemson talent at No. 4 was the team’s backup plan.
  • Joe Flacco‘s work in the early days of the Broncos‘ offseason program dissuaded John Elway from selecting a quarterback at No. 10 overall, something many mock drafts had the Broncos doing. “What made that decision is, Joe is fitting really well with what we want to do offensively, and he looked great in our minicamp last week,” Elway said Thursday, via King. “He really put on a throwing exhibition last week in camp. I truly think we’ve got a guy coming into his prime.” Of course, less than 24 hours later, Drew Lock was a Bronco. Both King and SI.com’s Albert Breer report the Mizzou prospect was the top passer on Denver’s board, with Breer adding that Elway continually brought up Lock in pre-draft meetings, pointing further to the potential value investment at No. 42.
  • As for what would have happened if the Broncos did not receive a strong Steelers offer for No. 10? Denver would have a new starting inside linebacker, with King writing the Broncos would have taken Devin Bush and addressed their offensive needs later.
  • While the Chiefs‘ Hardman pick looks like a Tyreek Hill emergency replacement, and was chosen three rounds ahead of when the polarizing star was taken three years ago, the team views the Georgia speedster as a cross between Hill and gadget-type weapon De’Anthony Thomas — both in terms of role and talent, Breer writes.
  • Of their six 2019 picks, the Jets used one on an offensive lineman — third-round tackle Chuma Edoga. Gang Green entered free agency with plenty of needs up front. While All-Pro Kelechi Osemele is now slotted in as one of the Jets’ first-string guards, Tom Compton represented the team’s only other veteran addition. Although, Jonotthan Harrison re-signed and appears to be a firm option to start, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes. The Jets were eyeing interior lineman Connor McGovern in Round 3, per Vacchiano, but the Cowboys beat them to him. As of now, Harrison — a career part-time starter with the Colts who ended last season as the Jets’ top center — is first in line to snap.

Jets Interested In Matt Paradis, Mitch Morse

Even after the Jets’ trade for Kelechi Osemele, they remain interested in improving their offensive line. Armed with the second-most cap space in the NFL, the Jets were expected to pursue multiple starters up front. Center appears to be a priority.

The Jets are interested in this year’s top center UFAs-to-be, with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reporting the team has Matt Paradis and Mitch Morse on its radar.

Spencer Long signed with the Jets last year, but he’s now with the Bills after underwhelming as a Jet. Paradis and Morse have longer track records of success, each being four-year starters. The Broncos appear set to let Paradis hit the market, despite their longtime starter profiling as their top free agent, and the Chiefs are likely to let Morse walk because of the major re-ups for other homegrown talents coming relatively soon.

Having started every game with the Broncos since the start of the 2015 season, Paradis broke his fibula to end his 2018 season. But he is still likely to command a top-market contract, having been one of the NFL’s top centers since the 2016 season.

The Eagles and Steelers recently raised the center ceiling, with extensions for Jason Kelce and Maurkice Pouncey moving the market to $11MM per year. Given how teams have spent on offensive linemen in recent years, it is not out of the question the 29-year-old Paradis could exceed that. Ryan Jensen became the highest-paid center via 2018 free agency accord, and Paradis has a longer track record of success.

Morse has battled injuries the past two years, missing 14 starts. But he has been a generally well-regarded center since arriving as a Chiefs second-round pick in 2015. Kansas City has extensions planned for Tyreek Hill and Chris Jones this offseason, having already begun talks with Hill, so players like Morse and Steven Nelson may be permitted to walk as free agents.

Additionally, the Jets are not planning to adjust Osemele’s contract, Mehta tweets. The eighth-year guard is scheduled to carry cap numbers of $10.2MM and $11.7MM in 2019 and ’20, respectively. The Jets will be able to afford these hits. No guaranteed money remains on Osemele’s deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Trade Kelechi Osemele To Jets

The Raiders have reached an agreement to trade guard Kelechi Osemele to the Jets, according to Adam Schefter and Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Oakland will receive a 2019 fifth-round pick (No. 140), while New York will acquire Osemele and a 2019 sixth-round pick (No. 196), tweets Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune.

Oakland, of course, acquired superstar wideout Antonio Brown from the Steelers late last night, just months after dealing away their own stars in edge rusher Khalil Mack and receiver Amari Cooper. Now, the club is dealing away arguably its best offensive lineman, so it’s unclear if the Raiders view themselves as contenders or are instead continuing with their rebuild.

Osemele, 29, inked a five-year, $58.5MM deal with Oakland in 2016 after spending the first four years of his career in Baltimore. After missing only one game during his first two years in the Bay Area, Osemele was sidelined by a knee injury for five contests in 2018. It’s fair to wonder if that knee issue bothered Osemele all season, as he finished with the worst Pro Football Focus grade of his career last season.

The Raiders will clear $10.5MM in both cash and cap off their books by moving Osemele, while the Jets will take on the same amount. Both clubs will remain among the top-seven teams in available cap space heading into the new league year on Wednesday. Osemele is under contract through the 2020 season, and will carry an $11.7MM cap charge next year.

The Jets’ fielded one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines last season, and had pursued Osemele when he was a free agent in 2016, so the marriage makes sense on paper. In 2019, New York ranked dead last in adjusted line yards, Football Outsiders’ offensive line metric, and also ranked 32nd in adjusted line yards when running behind the center/guard. James Carpenter, the Jets’ left guard starter entering last season, missed the second half of the year with injury and is now a free agent, leaving a gap that Osemele will now fill.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Allen, Beckham, Jackson, Osemele

The Chargers picked up their biggest win of the season last night against the Chiefs, but they didn’t escape Kansas City unscathed. Already dealing with injuries to running backs Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon, they suffered another blow when star receiver Keenan Allen went down in the first half. Allen never returned to the game, and now we have an update on his status. Allen has been diagnosed with a hip pointer, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). While it is a somewhat significant injury, Rapoport notes there is no structural damage to his hip. He writes that it isn’t a longterm injury, and although he says he could “miss some time” it sounds like Allen will be back in time for the playoffs at the absolute latest.

Here are more injury updates from around the league:

  • Odell Beckham Jr. will miss a second straight game this week, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur announced today (Twitter link). Beckham is dealing with a quad injury, but the details are murky. He apparently suffered the injury a few weeks ago, and was initially able to play through it, but seemingly it’s taken a turn for the worse. The team has been very tightlipped about what exactly happened, but more details should leak out eventually.
  • The Buccaneers are still somewhat alive in the playoff race, but they’ll be playing the Ravens this week without receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson will be missing his third straight game with a thumb injury. While the Bucs would surely love to have Jackson out there against a stingy Baltimore defense, Chris Godwin has filled in just fine in his place across from Mike Evans. All signs continue to point toward Jackson and Tampa Bay separating at the end of the year.
  • The Raiders have suddenly come alive and played some good games the past few weeks, upsetting the Steelers as massive underdogs last week. But they’ll be facing a tough Bengals defensive line without at least one starter on their offensive line. Left guard Kelechi Osemele has been ruled out for the game, and right guard Gabe Jackson is questionable after not practicing all week. If Jackson can’t play either it would be a disaster scenario for the Raiders, as their top reserve guard was just placed on injured reserve.

Notable 2018 Pro Bowl Incentives/Escalators

The NFL announced the 2018 Pro Bowl rosters earlier tonight, and aside from determining which players will spend a week in Orlando early next year, the rosters also dictate several important bonuses and/or contract escalators for individual players. Former NFL agent and current CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry has rounded up the notable incentives earned tonight, and we’ll pass those along below. As Corry notes (Twitter link), only first ballot Pro Bowlers who actually participate in the game (unless injured or playing in the Super Bowl) are in bonuses, which are typically paid out by the end of March.

Here are the notable Pro Bowl bonuses and escalators that were preliminarily netted this evening (all links to Corry’s Twitter):

Bonuses

  • Ravens S Eric Weddle, $1MM; requires Baltimore in playoffs (link): Still playing like one of the league’s best coverage safeties at the age of 32, Weddle needs the Ravens to land one of the AFC Wild Card slots in order to earn his incentive. Baltimore appears to on course to do just that, as FiveThirtyEight gives the club an 87% of earning a postseason berth. That playoff appearance will be largely due to the Ravens’ defense, which ranks second only to Jacksonville in DVOA.
  • Bills S Micah Hyde, $400K (link): Sean McDermott can coach defensive backs. After spending years finding gems at safety for the Eagles and Panthers, the Bills head coach has helped Hyde transform into a top-notch DB. Hyde, who inked a five-year, $30.5MM contract with Buffalo in the spring, ranked a respectable 53rd in Pro Football Focus‘ safety grades a year ago. This season? He’s ninth.
  • Raiders G Kelechi Osemele, $300K (link): Under general manager Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders have employed what is often referred to as an “all cash” salary cap management system, wherein prorated signing bonuses are rarely used while base salary guarantees, roster bonuses, and — as evidenced by the number of Oakland players on this list — incentive clauses are heavily employed. Osemele, the league’s highest-paid interior offensive lineman, is signed through 2020 with cap charges north of $10MM in each season.
  • Rams K Greg Zuerlein, $250K (link): While the Los Angeles offense garners the most headlines, the club’s special teams unit has maintained its dominance under coordinator John Fassel, who briefly took over as the Rams’ interim head coach in 2016. Fassel, Zuerlein, & Co. have managed a No. 2 ranking in special teams DVOA, while Zuerlein himself has been worth 15.1 points of field position (second in the NFL).
  • Raiders T Donald Penn, $200K (link): Penn’s summer holdout lead to extra guarantees in the future, but didn’t end with a change to his 2017 salary, meaning this bonus part of his original deal. The 34-year-old Penn is currently on injured reserve, and will miss his first game since 2007 on Sunday. Still, his renegotiated contract now contains a $3MM guarantee for 2018, meaning he’s likely part of the Raiders’ plans.
  • Patriots ST Matthew Slater, $150K (link): Slater has now earned a Pro Bowl berth in every season since 2011. At some point, it’s fair to wonder if Slater is skating by on reputation, as he played only a quarter of the Patriots’ special teams snaps this year. Slater missed more special teams tackles than he made prior to his 2016 berth, tweets Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus.
  • Raiders C Rodney Hudson, $100K (link): For all of Oakland’s problems this season, the Raiders have continued to boast some of the NFL’s best pass-blocking offensive lineman. Hudson is the best pass-blocking center in the league by a wide margin, meaning he’s eminently affordable at $8.9MM annually.

Escalators

  • Lions CB Darius Slay, $550K base salary increase in 2018 (link): As Corry reports, Slay had three ways to earn this heft escalator — post five or more interceptions (he sits at seven), play on 80% or more of Detroit’s defensive snaps (he’s at 97.6%), or earn a Pro Bowl berth. Slay managed all three in what has become the best season of an increasingly impressive five-year career.
  • Eagles T Lane Johnson, $250K base salary increase each season from 2018-21 (link): Depending on Jason Peters‘ health and the Eagles’ plans, Johnson could very well be playing left tackle as soon as 2018. Even with his base salary set to increase, Johnson won’t have a cap charge north of $13.5MM over the life of his contract.
  • Eagles G Brandon Brooks, $250K base salary increase each season from 2018-20 (link): General manager Howie Roseman zeroed in on Brooks at the outset of the 2016 free agent period, and the 28-year-old has quickly proved to be one of the best free agent signings in recent memory. Brooks will earn an $8.5MM base salary — the largest during his five-year deal — in 2018.
  • Eagles TE Zach Ertz, $250K base salary increase from 2019-21 (link): Per Corry, Ertz also picked up a $100K bonus for 2017. Ertz has already set a career-high in touchdowns (eight) and has a shot to set new marks in receptions and yards even though he missed two games with injury. A former second-round pick, Ertz ranks among the top-five tight ends in catches, yards, and scores.

Notable 2017 Pro Bowl Incentives/Escalators

The NFL announced the 2017 Pro Bowl rosters earlier tonight, and aside from determining which players will spend a week in Orlando early next year, the rosters also dictate several important bonuses and/or contract escalators for individual players. Former NFL agent and current CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry has rounded up the notable incentives earned tonight, and we’ll pass those along below. As Corry notes (Twitter links), only first ballot Pro Bowlers who actually participate in the game (unless injured or playing in the Super Bowl) can earn bonuses, which are typically paid out by the end of March.

Here are the notable Pro Bowl bonuses and escalators that were preliminarily netted this evening (all links to Corry’s Twitter):

Incentives

  • Raiders G Kelechi Osemele, $300K (link): Under general manager Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders have employed what is often referred to as an “all cash” salary cap management system, wherein prorated signing bonuses are rarely used while base salary guarantees, roster bonuses, and — as evidenced by the number of Oakland players on this list — incentive clauses are heavily employed. Osemele, the league’s highest-paid interior offensive lineman, is signed through 2020 with cap charges north of $10MM in each season.
  • Colts P Pat McAfee, $250K (link): McAfee, who signed a five-year extension with the Colts in 2014, ranks third in the NFL in net punting average at 42.8 yards. The Indy special teams unit ranks fourth in the league in DVOA, while McAfee himself has been worth four points of field position on punts, third-best in the AFC.
  • Raiders S Reggie Nelson, $250K (link): Nelson sat on the free agent market until April, but has rewarded the Raiders for signing him by earning his second consecutive Pro Bowl season. The 33-year-old Nelson, who’s posted four interceptions after leading the NFL with eight picks in 2015, is in the middle of a two-year, $8.5MM deal.
  • Raiders T Donald Penn, $200K (link): Penn is the definition of stability, as the veteran left tackle hasn’t missed a game since becoming a starter during his rookie season in 2007. Penn signed a two-year, $11.9MM contract with the Raiders this spring, and is set to count $6.1MM against Oakland’s cap in 2017.
  • Raiders C Rodney Hudson, $100K (link): The third member of the Raiders’ offensive line to earn a Pro Bowl bonus, Hudson is the fourth-highest paid center in the league, earning $8.9MM annually. The No. 4 center in the NFL this year according to Pro Football Focus, Hudson is signed through the 2019 campaign.
  • Titans RB DeMarco Murray, $100K (link): After a putrid season in Philadelphia during which he barely topped 700 yards rushing, Murray has rebounded since being traded to the Titans, and is currently second in the league with 1.224 yards on the ground. He’s scored nine rushing touchdowns, and has added three more scores thorugh the air.

Escalators

  • Browns T Joe Thomas, $1.5MM 2017 roster bonus escalator (link): Thomas is due a roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year, and that bonus’ value has now increased from $1MM to $2.5MM. That bonus could factor in (in a minimal way) to any trade talks the Browns might have with other clubs, but Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson has been adamant that the Browns won’t deal Thomas.
  • Titans LB Brian Orakpo, $200K 2017 base salary escalator (link): Orakpo’s 2017 base salary will increase to $5.95MM after he was selected to the Pro Bowl and played in more than 65% of the Titans’ defensive snaps. Orakpo, who has posted 11 sacks during his second season with Tennessee, is signed through 2018.
  • Titans DT Jurrell Casey, $100K 2017 base salary escalator (link): Casey, 27, is arguably one of the more underpaid defenders in the league, as he’s due only $36MM from 2014-2018. His 2017 base salary will now increase to $5.9MM in 2017, and he’s also due a $200K roster bonus next spring.

Kelechi Osemele A Surprise Raiders Scratch

The Raiders will be without arguably their best offensive lineman tonight as they attempt to create distance from themselves and the Chiefs in the AFC West.

Kelechi Osemele will miss tonight’s Week 14 tilt due to an illness, making this the standout left guard’s first missed game as a Raider.

To ignite a spending spree this offseason, Oakland signed Osemele to a contract that dwarfs other guards’ deals, and the fifth-year pro has made good on that investment. Pro Football Focus ranks the mammoth blocker No. 1 overall among guards, being tied with former Ravens mate Marshal Yanda for that distinction through 12 games.

He’s been a part of a resurgent Raiders line that’s helped the team rank fifth in total offense and seventh in rushing. The latter figure is a noticeable jump from the team’s struggles in 2015, when they ranked 28th on the ground. In the passing game, Oakland ranks fourth and has allowed a league-low 13 sacks.

This will mark a fourth straight season Osemele’s missed at least one game. The former second-round pick missed two in each of the past two seasons and nine during Baltimore’s 2013 slate.

Rookie Vadal Alexander will be replacing Osemele in the starting lineup in Kansas City, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). Alexander’s started three games this season for a Raiders team that’s deployed more six-offensive lineman sets than any other offense this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Osemele: Ravens’ Offer “Didn’t Get Close”

While speaking to Baltimore-area reporters Wednesday, Raiders guard Kelechi Osemele had some less-than-kind words for his former team, the Ravens, writes Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Osemele’s current and previous employer are set to meet in Baltimore on Sunday.

Kelechi Osemele

After spending the first four seasons of his career with the Ravens, Osemele headed to the Bay Area over the winter as a highly sought-after free agent. It took a five-year, $58.5MM deal for the Raiders to land Osemele, who commented on the Ravens’ offer Wednesday.

“We didn’t get close at all,” he said. “I wasn’t really offered much at all. I pretty much knew right away I was going somewhere else. Some of the things that were being brought back to me, borderline, they can hurt your feelings sometimes.”

Osemele’s assessment runs contrary to what head coach John Harbaugh said in February, notes Zrebiec. Back then, Harbaugh stated the Ravens had been “really aggressive” in trying to re-sign Osemele and he added that the offer that was on the table at the time “shows a lot of respect for K.O.” Regardless, Osemele knew entering last season that it might be his last in Baltimore.

“I talked to Torrey Smith about it and some other guys that ended up leaving and they kind of told me that it might be a situation where Baltimore won’t pay me enough for me to stay, and it’s something that does happen with that organization because they’re able to find so many young players,” he said. “I was prepared for it. There were even some people in the organization that approached me about it and told me about it prior to the year.”

Like Osemele, Smith parlayed a four-year Ravens tenure into a sizable payday in the Bay Area. Smith is with the 49ers, though, having inked a four-year, $40MM contract with the club in March 2015.

Osemele also revealed Wednesday that there’s a Ravens coach he didn’t get along with during his time there, but he declined to identify which member of Harbaugh’s staff it is. Despite both that and his unhappiness with the Ravens’ efforts to retain him, Osemele doesn’t have hard feelings for the franchise.

“I love the city and I love the organization,” he said. “I believe in what they do for the community and what they represent. But I’m somewhere else now. I’m 100 percent all in with the Raiders’ organization. We’re going to go in there on Sunday and put on a good performance.”

It’s early, of course, but Sunday’s matchup could have playoff implications down the line. The Osemele-less Ravens are off to a 3-0 start, while the Raiders have begun 2-1 as they look to break a 13-year postseason drought.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Freeman, Neal, Osemele

Here is the latest on some of the top free agents still available and some of the talents who have already landed with new teams.

  • After the Packers decided to re-sign Nick Perry at a lower rate than what his fifth-year option would’ve paid him, he could still be joined by Mike Neal next season, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com tweets. The Packers’ 2010 second-round pick started 15 games last season, and the team hasn’t ruled out bringing him back as well to join Perry and Julius Peppers.
  • The Colts and Jerrell Freeman aren’t close on a new contract, Chris Hagan of FOX 59 tweets. Mike Chappell of IndySportsCentral.com adds the Colts’ offer for the inside linebacker could be a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. Freeman finished last season as Pro Football Focus’ No. 4-ranked linebacker and as PFR’s No. 23-rated UFA resides as one of the best players still on the market.
  • Vikings free agent cornerback Josh Robinson is visiting the Dolphins, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (on Twitter).
  • New Raiders addition Kelechi Osemele says that his position is not set in stone, as Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. Osemele indicated that he will play either tackle or guard depending on what happens for Oakland in free agency and in the draft.
  • I would love to come back [to the Falcons] and revive the feeling we had at the [Georgia] Dome, and revive my career,” free agent linebacker Sean Weatherspoon told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. He’ll be meeting with Atlanta brass this evening, per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • New Broncos tackle Donald Stephenson told media (including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, Twitter link) that 13-15 teams were interested in him.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report