Kevin Zeitler

Final Terms Of Odell Beckham Jr. Trade

The trades of Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon were originally reported as separate moves, but the Browns and Giants have have each announced the acquisitions as one large transaction. Additionally, as Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com first reported, the fourth- and fifth-round picks that were originally part of the Vernon/Kevin Zeitler trade are no longer involved in the swap.

Here are the full terms of the stunning trade:

Browns acquire:

Giants acquire:

Browns, Giants Alter Zeitler/Vernon Trade

When the Browns and Giants agreed to swap guard Kevin Zeitler and defensive end Olivier Vernon earlier this week, the two clubs also decided to trade draft picks: Cleveland was set to give up a fifth-round pick (No. 155) to New York, while Big Blue send a fourth-round pick (No. 132) to the Browns. Now, following the deal that will send Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland, the two teams have agreed to revise the Zeitler/Brown trade.

The pick swap will no longer occur, according to Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com (Twitter link). Instead, Zeitler will simply be traded straight up for Vernon, while OBJ will go to the Browns in a separate move. However, you can look at both swaps together as such: Beckham and Vernon for Zeitler, Peppers, No. 17 overall and No. 95 overall.

It’s unclear as to why the Giants and Browns have reached this agreement. The return for Beckham has been widely panned, so it’s possible the Giants asked for the Vernon/Zeitler pick swap to be eliminated as something of a face-saving move (although undoing a 23-spot drop in the draft probably isn’t worth all that much).

Giants To Trade Olivier Vernon To Browns

The Giants are trading Olivier Vernon to the Browns, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). In return, the Giants will receive guard Kevin Zeitler (Twitter link). The Giants had originally agreed to send the No. 132 pick to Cleveland, with the Browns shipping No. 155 back to New York, but the two side have since canceled that portion of the swap.

The deal gives the Browns a formidable defensive end combo between Vernon and Myles Garrett. The swap also allows the Browns to focus on other areas of need next week, rather than overpaying for valued edge rushers.

Vernon inked a massive five-year, $85MM deal with the Giants in 2016. A few years later, the Giants found themselves looking to unload him or potentially release him outright. Vernon is still productive, but he no longer profiles as one of the best edge rushers in the NFL. Even at his time of signing, his contract was a function of an inflated pass rushing market that continues to be player friendly.

Vernon is due $15.5MM in each of the two remaining years on his deal. The Browns had roughly $77MM in cap space entering Friday, but it’s not immediately clear whether the Giants will be chipping in towards what Vernon is owed. Such an arrangement is not unheard of. In the Case Keenum trade between the Broncos and Redskins, for example, the Broncos agreed to pay half of Keenum’s 2019 salary.

Vernon, 28, gave the Giants a career-high 8.5 sacks in his first season with the club. He’s continued to get to the QB with 22 sacks over the course of three years, but injuries have cost him nine games over the last two campaigns. Last year, he averaged four pressures per contest in eleven games.

The Giants, meanwhile, pick up one of the league’s best interior lineman in the trade. Zeitler was Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 ranked guard last season and is midway through a five-year, $60MM deal. The 29-year-old is set to make $10MM this season, though much of that hit will be absorbed by the Browns.

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Browns Shopping Kevin Zeitler?

The Browns have “thrown around” the name of guard Kevin Zeitler in trade talks, Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com tweets. It’s a tad surprising to hear that the Browns are exploring a Zeitler trade given his ability and the dead money cap hit that would be associated with dealing him. 

On Wednesday, the Browns released linebacker Jamie Collins to save $9MM+ in cap space versus just $2.5MM in dead money. Trading Zeitler, meanwhile, would be roughly the inverse: a savings of $1.7MM versus $10.7MM in dead cap space.

At the time of signing, the Browns’ old regime made him the highest paid guard in the NFL with a five-year, $60MM deal that was more than 50% guaranteed. The payout structure would make this release totally unpalatable for most teams, but the Browns have upwards of $80MM in cap room and could conceivably take the hit in exchange for a sizable draft haul.

If the Browns move Zeitler, they could turn to rising sophomore Austin Corbett, who was selected by John Dorsey in the second round of last year’s draft. Corbett has promise and a rookie deal that will carry a modest $1.71MM cap hit in 2019, making him an intriguing replacement.

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Contract Details: Ravens, Zeitler, Guy

Let’s take a look at the details of some recently-signed free agent contracts:

  • Danny Woodhead, RB (Ravens): Three years, $8.8MM. $4.25MM guaranteed. $1.75MM cap number for 2017 (Twitter links via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun). As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com observes (via Twitter), that represents a sizeable investment for a running back in this market. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that Woodhead gets a $2.5MM signing bonus.
  • Tony Jefferson, S (Ravens): Four years, $34MM (max value of $37MM). $19MM guaranteed. $5.5MM cap number for 2017 (Twitter links via Zrebiec). La Canfora tweets that Jefferson gets a $10MM signing bonus.
  • Kevin Zeitler, G (Browns): Five years, $60MM. $31.5MM guaranteed ($6MM 2017 base salary fully guaranteed). $12MM signing bonus. Cash per year values of $18MM, $10MM, $10MM, $10MM, $12MM (Twitter links via Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer).
  • Lawrence Guy, DL (Patriots): Four years, $19MM. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (via Twitter) reports that Guy receives a fully-guaranteed $4.9MM in 2017, but that the total base value of his contract is $13.4MM, with the chance to reach $19MM with $1.4MM playing-time incentives each year. As Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, Guy’s deal effectively amounts to a one-year pact, as the final three years of the contract are non-guaranteed. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets that Guy receives a $4MM signing bonus.
  • Marshall Newhouse, OT (Raiders): Two years, $3.5MM. Can earn an additional $1MM in playing-time bonuses (Twitter link via Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com).

Extra Points: Raiders, Holmes, Whitworth

The latest from around the NFL:

Browns To Sign Kevin Zeitler

The Browns will give Kevin Zeitler a five-year, $60MM deal that includes $31.5MM guaranteed, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The deal will make Zeitler the highest-paid guard in NFL history.Kevin Zeitler (Vertical)

Nearly every NFL front office was reportedly interested in Zeiter, who was the top free agent guard on the market and ranked as PFR’s No. 5 overall free agent. In addition to the Browns, the Colts, Jaguars, and Saints were all linked to Zeitler, who hasn’t missed a start in either of the past two seasons. With his new pact, Zeitler will eke past Kelechi Osemele as the league’s highest-paid interior offensive lineman.

Zeitler, 26, has made 71 starts at right guard since Cincinnati selected him in the first round of the 2012 draft, and in 2016 Zeitler graded as the league’s seventh-best guard, according to Pro Football Focus. Zeitler played the 2016 campaign under the terms of his fifth-year option which paid him $8.07MM, a figure that should have represented the bare minimum in contract negotiations.

Cleveland has revamped its offensive line today, adding Zeitler to play right guard, J.C. Tretter to man center, and extending left guard Joel Bitonio on a long-term deal. The Browns’ front five ranked near the bottom of the league in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate, so the club clearly needed to address the position group.

For Cincinnati, the loss of Zeitler represents the second major offensive line defection of the day, as left tackle Andrew Whitworth signed with the Rams this morning.

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Jaguars Out On Kevin Zeitler; Down To Saints, Browns

The Jaguars are out of the running for guard Kevin Zeitler, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets. That means the interior lineman is likely down to two teams: the Saints and Browns. Zeitler’s AFC South destinations, with the Colts being involved as well, appear to be out.

Viewed as not only the top guard on the market but the top offensive lineman, Zeitler represents a key domino in free agency in terms of setting the market. The Browns, of course, possess more cap room here, entering Thursday with more than $100MM. Although they agreed to a deal with Kenny Britt, the Browns obviously can afford Zeitler and several other marquee free agents if they so choose. Zeitler’s price tag could run past $12MM AAV, which would be a guard record.

The Saints have prioritized this position for years in order to preserve Drew Brees‘ pocket. They have former perennial All-Pro Jahri Evans back in unrestricted free agency. New Orleans finished last season tops in total offense in 2016 and could stand to improve if it adds a lineman of Zeitler’s caliber. The Saints have more money to spend than they usually do at this time of year, but the $27MM-plus pales in comparison to the Browns’ warchest.

Once Zeitler signs, it will complete a rough defection day for the Bengals, who just saw Andrew Whitworth agree to a deal with the Rams.

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Saints Interested In Kevin Zeitler

As Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported earlier today, nearly every NFL front office is interested in free agent guard Kevin Zeitler. The Saints can now be added to that list, as New Orleans may pursue the soon-to-be ex-Bengals lineman, tweets Herbie Teope of the Times-Picayune.Kevin Zeitler (Vertical)

While Cincinnati has all but given up on re-signing Zeitler, the rest of the league is ready to pounce, meaning Zeitler (27 today) should be able to garner a contract in the $12MM range. Already, the Colts, Jaguars, and Browns have been linked to Zeitler, who ranks as PFR’s No. 5 overall free agent. A former first-round pick, Zeitler has started 71 games for the Bengals over the past five years, and hasn’t missed a contest in either of the past two campaigns.

If New Orleans signs Zeitler, the club would probably end any discussion of bringing veteran right guard Jahri Evans back for a 12th season. While the Saints could conceivably ink both guards and move Andrus Peat to right tackle, such a shift would be overly complicated and difficult, especially given that neither Zeitler nor Evans has ever played on the left side.

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Latest On Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler

Andrew Whitworth may not be the most popular Bengals free agent lineman after all. Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer talked to multiple teams, and nearly all of those front offices expressed interest in Bengals offensive guard Kevin Zeitler (Twitter link).

Kevin Zeitler (Vertical)Meanwhile, Glazer notes that Whitworth has also drawn plenty of interest, although the Bengals front office did a nice job convincing teams that they’d ultimately re-sign the veteran. Whitworth is currently trying to convince these potential suitors that a return to Cincinnati is not guaranteed.

The fact that Whitworth is a popular name shouldn’t be too surprising, as he ranked atop our list of the best available offensive tackles. The 35-year-old has spent his entire 11-year career in Cincinnati, starting 164 of his 168 games. The lineman has only missed a pair of regular season games since the start of the 2009 season.

Zeitler was listed as the top available guard in our rankings, and Zach Links projected him to earn the fifth-largest contract this offseason. The former first-rounder has started 71 games during his five-year career.

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