Kevin Zeitler

Trade Rumors: Giants, Ryan, Fuller

After dealing Markus Golden to the Cardinals, it appears the 1-6 Giants have officially declared themselves sellers at this year’s trade deadline. Though GM Dave Gettleman may be reluctant to trade away veteran talent that could theoretically help Big Blue win a few games — and perhaps save Gettleman’s job in the process — players like Evan Engram, Kevin Zeitler, and Golden Tate could be available, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes (though Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says the club is unlikely to deal Engram).

2017 second-round DT Dalvin Tomlinson could also be on the move, per Dunleavy. Tomlinson is playing out the last year of his rookie contract, and while he has expressed interest in staying with the Giants long-term, there has been little progress in contract talks.

As we creep closer to the November 3 deadline, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league:

Trade Notes: Vikings, Giants, Dunlap, Jets

The Vikings greenlit this season’s biggest trade thus far by sending Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens for third- and fifth-round picks. While GM Rick Spielman said the team is not waving a white flag on its 2020 season, Albert Breer of SI.com notes the Vikings are willing to make more seller’s trades. Teams have contacted them about Kyle Rudolph, their 10th-year tight end who is in the first season of his latest Minnesota extension. The Vikings signed Rudolph to a four-year, $36MM extension but did so shortly after drafting Irv Smith Jr. in the second round. While Breer notes the Vikes are open for business on contract-year players, the soon-to-be 31-year-old Rudolph would make sense as a trade chip as well. He was a trade candidate before he signed his extension. Guard Pat Elflein and franchise-tagged safety Anthony Harris are the Vikings’ highest-profile contract-year players.

Here is the latest from the trade market:

  • While this year’s NFC East could be historically bad, the Giants are 1-6 and in a seller’s position again. They have fielded calls on Kevin Zeitler and Golden Tate, according to Breer. Tate has been a deadline chip before, with the Lions sending him to the Eagles in 2018. Tate’s through-2022 contract, thanks to a PED suspension in 2019, contains no more guaranteed money. Zeitler’s deal runs through 2021. The upper-echelon guard has more than $5MM in salary remaining this season and is due a $12MM base in 2021. The Giants acquired Zeitler via trade in 2019.
  • Washington has lost five straight and is also willing to listen on veterans, per Breer. Two that have come up: edge defenders Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Anderson. The former is Washington’s all-time sack leader; he has three this season for a deep D-line group. But Washington drafted Montez Sweat and Chase Young in the past two first rounds, creating a rare surplus that has moved Kerrigan to a rotational role. Kerrigan and Anderson are in contract years.
  • Carlos Dunlap took issue with the Bengals demoting him, joining Geno Atkins in voicing frustration about playing time. The Bengals were not eager to deal veterans last year, despite their struggles in a 2-14 season, but Breer adds teams view Dunlap as available for trade. Dunlap is Cincinnati’s all-time sack leader but still played a part-time role for the team last week, despite Sam Hubbard‘s IR placement. The Bengals are expected to cut Dunlap in 2021.
  • The Jets dealt nose tackle Steve McLendon to the Buccaneers shortly after their Week 6 game, and in a rare development, McLendon knew he would be a postgame trade piece a day in advance. The Jets interestingly opted not to hold him out of last week’s game. “I got the news on Saturday night that a car would be waiting for me after the game Sunday to come to Tampa,” McLendon said, via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. “I was like, ‘OK.’ Sunday morning, I woke up, I prayed, and I was like, ‘This is one last ride.’ A lot of guys were saying, ‘Man, you’re really gonna play?’ And I was like, ‘Man, this could be the last time I play with y’all in my career.'” The 11th-year veteran will now be tasked with replacing Vita Vea.
  • Traded players must go through similar protocols to free agency additions. They must pass a COVID-19 test for five days straight and pass a sixth on the day they enter the facility. This formed the Ravens‘ timetable on their Ngakoue trade, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (on Twitter), in order for the defensive end to practice Wednesday and play against the Steelers next week.

Giants Restructure Kevin Zeitler’s Contract

The Giants have restructured the contract of guard Kevin Zeitler, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The revised contract should give the Giants some much needed flexibility with the anticipated signing of two first-round picks on the horizon. 

The tweaked contract will convert $7.5MM of Zeitler’s $10MM salary for 2019 into a signing bonus. By doing that, the G-Men have freed up $5MM in cap room for the upcoming season.

Beyond that, Zeitler is signed through 2021 with non-guaranteed salaries of $10MM and $12MM. But, by easing the blow in 2019, his cap hits will go up $2.5MM in each of those seasons. That’s a bridge the Giants can potentially cross next offseason, if they are still in need of wiggle room.

The Giants acquired Zeitler via trade with the Browns in a swap that sent Olivier Vernon to Cleveland. Later, that trade was merged with the Odell Beckham Jr. blockbuster, resulting in the following mega-trade:

Browns acquire:

Giants acquire:

In Zeitler, the Giants added one of the league’s best interior linemen. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 ranked guard last season and should provide a huge boost to the club’s front five.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.