Kolton Miller

West Notes: Harris, 49ers, Chiefs, Raiders

Shortly after agreeing to a redone 2019 contract, Chris Harris announced intentions to bet on himself in advance of a 2020 free agency venture. The decorated Broncos cornerback bypassed free agency in 2015, signing a five-year extension, but is targeting top cornerback money next year. As for the chances of the Broncos being the team that authorizes such a deal, the soon-to-be 30-year-old defender said that would be the goal.

I’m definitely giving them a shot. Definitely,” Harris said, via NFL.com, of the prospect of re-signing with the Broncos after this season. “The situation could always be salvaged and worked out. So, I’ll go do my thing, and then at the end of the year, whatever, I’ll definitely give them a fair chance, for sure.

I’ve always said I want to retire here and that’s always been my mentality here. So, if I got to go show them in 16 games that I want to retire here, then I’m going to go do.”

When the Broncos and Harris discussed his deal this offseason, both sides preferred a long-term extension. But the parties were so far apart they shifted to this rare pay-raise agreement. The Broncos are projected to hold $50MM-plus in 2020 cap space, and while Harris would stand to profile as their most talented free agent-to-be, it appears this situation can be tabled for several months.

Here is the latest coming out of the West divisions:

  • After converting college safety Tarvarius Moore to cornerback his rookie year, the 49ers recently moved him back. Jimmie Ward‘s broken collarbone prompted this change, with The Athletic’s Matt Barrows noting (subscription required) Moore was stationed at corner as recently as last week. DC Robert Saleh praised Moore’s versatility. Fellow 2018 safety draftee D.J. Reed is also recovering from offseason surgery, so Moore’s latest position switch might not be permanent.
  • Given a starting role by two teams thus far in his career, Carlos Hyde is again set to work as a backup. The Chiefs plan to use Damien Williams as their starter over the former 49ers and Browns first-stringer, OC Eric Bieniemy said (via 610 Sports’ Brandon Kiley, on Twitter). Summoned into action because of Kareem Hunt‘s midseason exit and a Spencer Ware injury, Williams averaged 5.1 yards per carry during the regular season and scored four playoff touchdowns. Coming into his surprise promotion, Williams averaged 3.6 yards per tote in four seasons as a Dolphins backup. A year after signing a three-year, $15.25MM deal with the Browns, Hyde is attached to a one-year, $1.5MM Chiefs pact.
  • Trent Brown did not voice a preference to play left or right tackle, and the 6-foot-8, 380-pound Raiders blocker said moving back to right tackle will be less of a transition than sliding to the left side with the Patriots last year. The Raiders moved Brown because they prefer Kolton Miller on the left side, OC Greg Olson said. “Certainly, we had a chance to study Trent before when he was in San Francisco. We’ve seen him on both sides,” Olson said, via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. “We’ve had a chance to have Kolton, obviously, on the left side, so that’s where we’ve started this spring.”

AFC West Notes: Jones, Raiders, Broncos

The Chiefs entered the offseason with two major extensions on tap, but considering Tyreek Hill‘s situation, that number has almost certainly dwindled to one. And Chris Jones looks to be staying away from the team for the time being. Jones did not show for the Chiefs’ voluntary workouts this week, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com reports. While this may not be contract-related, the now-extension-eligible interior defender may be sending an early message to his team. The Chiefs just gave trade acquisition Frank Clark a massive extension, and despite Clark’s presence as the Seahawks’ top pass rusher last season, Jones outperformed him with 15.5 sacks — far and away the most in Chiefs single-season history for an inside defender. Considering Fletcher Cox received $17.1MM per year after a 9.5-sack season, and on a $155MM cap in 2016, Jones’ representation will surely argue the Pro Bowl snub deserves to be the highest-paid non-Aaron Donald interior lineman in the game.

Here is the latest from the AFC West, shifting to a lineman that already received a massive contract:

  • Although the Raiders gave Trent Brown the biggest contract in tackle history, they plan to use him at right tackle. Jon Gruden confirmed (via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo, on Twitter) Kolton Miller will stay at left tackle and Brown, who signed a $16.5MM-AAV deal in March, will return to the right-edge spot he occupied in San Francisco. The Patriots used Brown at left tackle, and he played a key role in their championship push in the playoffs. However, this may be geared toward the Raiders’ competition. Von Miller consistently rushes against right tackles, as does Joey Bosa. It is possible Clark will too, though that has yet to be determined. Nevertheless, Brown now easily usurps Denver’s Ja’Wuan James ($12.75MM per year) as the NFL’s highest-paid right tackle.
  • Mike Mayock identified a new key presence in his scouting department. Cowboys west coast area scout Jim Abrams will become the Raiders’ new college scouting director, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio and ESPN.com’s Todd Archer report (Twitter links). Abrams worked with Gruden during part of the Raiders HC’s Buccaneers tenure and has nearly 30 years of NFL experience.
  • The Broncos did use one of their six draft choices on a wide receiver, waiting until Round 6 to do so (Juwann Winfree), but did not add any notable wideouts in free agency. They are counting on Emmanuel Sanders to return from his Achilles injury. Sanders made another key step in his rehab recently, taking to Instagram to show his first on-field sprint following his December injury. Sanders, 32, is entering the final year of his contract.
  • While the Broncos did take a quarterback in the second round, they appear to have their eyes on another developmental project at the position. Their UDFA deal with Brett Rypien comes with a $146K base salary guarantee and a $10K signing bonus, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. This virtually assures the Boise State product and nephew of former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien of making Denver’s practice squad, with 9News’ Mike Klis reporting (on Twitter) he will receive $136K if he is part of the Broncos’ taxi unit. That is well north of most P-squad salaries. Rypien’s guarantee represents the largest of John Elway‘s nine-year tenure, per Klis (on Twitter). That said, Joe Flacco, Drew Lock and Kevin Hogan remain likely to be the quarterbacks on Denver’s 53-man roster. The Broncos may have to hope no team claims Rypien if and when he is waived after the preseason.

Raiders To Sign LT Trent Brown

The Raiders are making some serious noise in March. On Monday, the club agreed to sign former Patriots tackle Trent Brown to a four-year, $66MM deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The pact, which includes $36.75MM guaranteed, will make Brown the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. 

The league-wide dearth of quality offensive lineman has taken the OL market to previously unforeseen heights. Brown had an excellent platform season in his first (and only) year with the Patriots in 2018, but few expected him to break the bank in this fashion.

Last year, Brown started in all 19 regular and postseason games for New England en route to a Super Bowl championship. Pro Football Focus was bullish on his performance, ranking him 32nd among 80 eligible linemen.

The Raiders already had a left tackle in UCLA product Kolton Miller, but he’ll be shifted back over to the right side, Schefter hears (Twitter link). Miller, who many felt was a reach at No. 15 overall in last year’s draft, produced mixed results in his 16 starts last year. The youngster may have a greater comfort level on the opposite side of Brown.

Meanwhile, veteran Donald Penn is a “strong candidate for release,” according to Michael Gehlken of the Review- Journal (on Twitter). By cutting Penn, the Raiders can save $7.225MM against the 2019 cap. Due to injuries, the usually durable Penn was limited to only four games in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Targeting Trent Brown, Ja’Wuan James

The Raiders may have just traded away their best offensive lineman when they agreed to ship Kelechi Osemele to the Jets, but they still want to fortify the O-line in free agency. Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link), offensive tackle Trent Brown is high atop Oakland’s wish list.

Brown had an excellent platform season in his first (and likely final) year with the Patriots in 2018, starting all 19 regular and postseason games for New England en route to a Super Bowl championship. Pro Football Focus was bullish on his performance, ranking him 32nd among 80 eligible linemen.

The Buccaneers just inked Donovan Smith to a three-year pact worth $41.25MM ($27MM guaranteed), and it would not be a surprise to see Brown top that figure in terms of years, AAV, and total guarantees. That is especially true given that he profiles as the best left tackle on the free agent market by a wide margin.

Rapoport confirms as much, tweeting that Brown could be among the highest-paid tackles in the league. He turns 26 next month and clearly has Pro Bowl upside. RapSheet also says Brown could make his decision early on in the tampering window, which opens in less than an hour. The Patriots declined to use the franchise tag on him but are still interested in re-signing him, and the Texans have some interest as well. Brown, though, may prefer a different destination, as Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets that head coach Jon Gruden does not plan to move 2018 first-round pick Kolton Miller from left tackle.

Per Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Oakland is also interested in Dolphins right tackle Ja’Wuan James (Twitter link). New GM Mike Mayock is prioritizing the offensive tackle position, per Gehlken, and while Miami would like to retain James, the rebuilding Fins may find it difficult to do so.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bell, Gregory, Raiders, Carr

With just less than four weeks remaining until the trade deadline, Le’Veon Bell-to-the-Eagles has surfaced on the rumor circuit. The Eagles are reportedly giving serious consideration to making a run at the likely rental running back. But SI.com’s Albert Breer isn’t so sure that’s going to happen. The Eagles don’t see running back as a spot to sink major resources into, per Breer. Bell’s approximately $10MM salary would qualify as a major investment, although that’s dropping by the week because of this unusual holdout. Philadelphia has just less than $5MM in cap room, and Breer notes the improving health of its running backs should help them steer clear of these interesting Bell sweepstakes. Corey Clement and Darren Sproles have yet to return to practice, and Jay Ajayi is playing with a back fracture. The Eagles traded a fourth-rounder for Ajayi before the 2017 trade deadline. Bell as of now plans to report to the Steelers during their Week 7 bye.

Here’s the latest from around the league as Week 5’s first game continues:

  • Randy Gregory‘s reinstatement conditions caused him to miss the Cowboys‘ Thursday practice. The defensive end was in Chicago meeting with medical director of the NFL’s substance-abuse program, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (on Twitter). He most recently attended this type of summit during the preseason. The NFL reinstated Gregory this summer after his extensive substance-abuse-induced hiatus. His status for Week 5 doesn’t appear to be in question. Gregory’s played 64 snaps this season.
  • Jimmy Smith‘s return to action this week doesn’t appear to mean Brandon Carr will be bumped from first-string duties. The 11th-year cornerback has started 164 straight games (and every game he’s played as an NFLer), and Ravens DC Wink Martindale doesn’t plan on stopping that run, Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com notes. Smith is eligible to return after a four-game suspension. Carr, Marlon Humphrey and slot man Tavon Young have worked as Baltimore’s top three corners this season. Smith was thriving prior to his season-ending injury last year, so it should be expected he’ll play a big role soon, even if he doesn’t start immediately. Carr’s 164-game start streak resides as the longest among defensive players by 28 games.
  • While Jon Gruden wanted to take Derwin James in the first round, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes (subscription required) the Raiders weren’t doing anything except taking a tackle in Round 1. However, if Kolton Miller was gone at No. 15 — where the Raiders dropped to after dealing the No. 10 selection to the Cardinals — Tafur notes they were going to take James or trade down further.
  • The Dolphins were projected to be among the teams examining the crop of potential first-round quarterbacks, but their 3-1 start could change that. Early in the mock process, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report has the Dolphins taking Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen, a player whom multiple area scouts have rising into the first round after a strong start to the season. As for where Miller projects the QBs to fall in Round 1, he has the Giants taking Oregon’s Justin Herbert and No. 5, the Patriots grabbing Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham at No. 17 (though, that draft slot seems certain to drop) and the Bengals selecting Missouri’s Drew Lock at 28.

AFC Notes: Foster, Joseph, Mack

Good news for Steelers fans. Left guard Ramon Foster, who was carted off the practice field yesterday, hyperextended his knee but did not suffer any ligament damage and will not require surgery, as Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). Kinkhabwala adds that Foster will miss four to five weeks but is expected to be ready for Week 1.

Now let’s get to more notes from around the AFC:

  • Browns owner Jimmy Haslam expressed unwavering support of head coach Hue Jackson during Haslam’s traditional training camp address yesterday. Per Tony Grossi of ESPN 850 WKNR, Haslam said, “I think we will see the real Hue Jackson (this year). He has good quarterbacks, he has some skill players, he has veteran offensive line – now, we have to figure out left tackle – and three really good backs and a good defense. I think this will be the first opportunity Hue will have to do what we know he can do as head coach and as a leader. We are excited to see it.” That certainly sounds to some, like Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, that Jackson is getting a clean slate, which is quite surprising for a head coach who has compiled a 1-31 record over his two seasons with the club. But Grossi suggests that the Haslams could also be subtly putting Jackson on notice that he is out of excuses.
  • Johnathan Joseph, who signed a two-year, $10MM deal to remain with the Texans this offseason, does not plan on calling it quits anytime soon, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. The 34-year-old Joseph is entering the 13th year of his career, but he remains a starting cornerback and stills loves the game and the camaraderie it engenders. Joseph said, “as long as I’m healthy and I’m fine, I’m going to go out there and compete and contribute to the team. I’ll never play this game just to be playing and out there taking checks and stuff like that. So, if I’m able to be out there playing winning football, I’ll always play.”
  • We learned several days ago that Raiders star defensive end Khalil Mack, who is staying away from the team in an effort to land a new contract, has not spoken with head coach Jon Gruden since Gruden was hired in January. That report sent some of Raiders Nation into panic mode, but as Jerry McDonald of the Mercury News opines, there is no cause for alarm. He says Gruden is right to stay out of the negotiations, which is the domain of GM Reggie McKenzie and ownership, and that there should be no issues between Mack and Gruden when the contract situation does get resolved. McKenzie, meanwhile had no updates to offer on the negotiations.
  • In other Raiders news, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com reports that rookie Kolton Miller will be given every chance to win the starting LT job from Donald Penn, who is currently on the PUP list.
  • Embattled Bills DE Shaq Lawson could be on his way out of Buffalo, but DC Leslie Frazier isn’t casting him aside just yet. Frazier said Lawson’s best football is ahead of him, and that he is much too young to say that 2018 is a make-or-break year (via Joe Buscaglia of WKBW on Twitter). However, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets, Frazier also refers to Trent Murphy as the team’s starting left end, which is further evidence that Lawson has ground to make up if he wants to remain a Bill.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Mahomes, Penn

The Dolphins have a number of running backs who could realistically earn the starting gig this season. Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore are the obvious frontrunners, and the organization is also expecting rookie Kalen Ballage to contribute at some point during the upcoming campaign.

With several options to choose from, running backs coach Eric Studesville made it sound like the Dolphins won’t necessarily opt for a two-headed (or even three-headed) monster.

“The guy that gives us the best chance to win, that gives the Miami Dolphins the best chance to win,” Studesville told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, “that’s who’s got to be the guy who’s out there for us and helping us win football games.

“We’ve got to get everybody up to speed to where they all know it, we’re all confident in our assignments and then let them go play. And they’re going to sort out what those roles are as we go. I don’t think we have that set right now. We just have to wait and see how it goes.”

As the Dolphins sort out their running back depth, let’s check out some more notes out of the AFC…

  • Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes received a number of endorsement offers during his rookie campaign. However, the quarterback ended up turning down those deals, as he was more focused on gaining the respect of his teammates (instead of cashing every possible check). “We talked about how the first year the goal was to integrate into the team, and the only way to do that is to pay deference to the incumbent veterans and try not to go into the situation with a high profile,” his agent, Leigh Steinberg, told ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “We intentionally didn’t do endorsements that would run in the Kansas City area even though they were offered. We didn’t want him to be on billboards and everything when he wasn’t even playing.” While it sounds like plenty of local businesses want to capitalize on Mahomes’ fame, the signal-caller will surely be eyeing some national gigs if his development goes as planned.
  • During this past year’s draft, the Raiders used the 15th-overall pick to select left tackle Kolton Miller. That selection didn’t sit well with incumbent left tackle Donald Penn. “I’m not going to lie, as soon as I saw the draft pick, I called [coach Jon] Gruden immediately,” Penn said during as appearance on Michael Rapoport’s podcast (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “He didn’t answer, but when I saw him the next Monday, he was joking with me saying, ‘You were ready to kick my a**, huh, Donald?! You were mad.” The 35-year-old, who has spent the past four years with the team, is still expected to start for the Raiders in 2018.
  • In case you missed it, the Dolphins made a pair of moves yesterday. The team signed first-round defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to his rookie contract, and they signed cornerback Bobby McCain to an extension later that afternoon.

Raiders Sign Rookie Kolton Miller

The Raiders officially signed first-round offensive tackle Kolton Miller, according to a team announcement. Per the terms of his slot as the No. 15 overall pick, Miller will receive a four-year deal worth $13.5MM. 

On draft night, the Raiders the No. 10 pick to the Cardinals in exchange for the No. 15 selection, plus third- and fifth-round selections. The deal allowed them to add additional draft capital while securing Miller at a cheaper rate. Had they taken Miller at No. 10, the Raiders would have doled out an extra $4.1MM over the course of his four-year deal while also facing a more expensive decision on his fifth-year option for the 2022 season.

It seems likely that Jon Gruden had his eye on Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey at No. 10, but the 49ers beat them to the punch by selecting him ninth overall. Even though he’s a bit green, Miller is not a bad consolation prize, especially when considering the extra draft picks acquired in the trade.

Oakland’s initial offseason workouts involving rookies have featured Miller at left tackle, where Donald Penn remains a mainstay. Penn’s entering his fifth season as the Raiders’ starter there but is also coming into his age-35 season. And the Raiders have had issues at right tackle for a couple of seasons now, the undeniable weak link on what’s been a strong offensive line over the past few years, and it’s possible the UCLA product could begin his career there.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bay Area Notes: Johnson, Hurst, Miller, DBs

It sounds like Jon Gruden and Derrick Johnson hit it off in a one-on-one meeting, which led to the Raiders signing the 14th-year linebacker earlier on Friday. Johnson’s deal is a one-year agreement, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com reports, adding that it’s worth up to $3MM. Gruden looks to have been a Johnson fan for a while during his years as ESPN’s Monday Night Football analyst, and that intel may have played a key role in the 35-year-old off-ball ‘backer landing with Oakland.

I’m one of Gruden’s favorite players — he’s always had a soft spot for me,” Johnson said, via Paylor. “He’s always said that over the years. I’m not playing for a rebuilding-type year. I sensed an urgency from Coach Gruden that winning is important right now.”

The Chiefs’ all-time leading tackler, Johnson has not played in a 4-3 defense since the 2008 season. Prior to the Chiefs switching to the 3-4 look in 2009, Johnson worked as an outside linebacker with Kansas City during his first four seasons. The Raiders signed Tahir Whitehead as well. He, Bruce Irvin and Johnson could be the Raiders’ three linebacker starters, despite Johnson telling Paylor he’s not quite the same player he was since the second of his severe Achilles injuries shut him down late in the 2016 season.

Here’s the latest out of the Bay Area:

  • Gruden, though, did not rule out a NaVorro Bowman reunion (Twitter link via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area). Bowman is nearly six years younger than Johnson but also carries injury baggage. However, Bowman graded as Oakland’s best linebacker by a wide margin last season. The Raiders have maintained they’re still interested in Bowman throughout the offseason, but they’ve now added four linebackers — with Emmanuel Lamur and Kyle Wilber coming to California as well — since Bowman became a free agent.
  • The Raiders began their rookie minicamp with Kolton Miller working at left tackle, where he’ll likely be Donald Penn‘s backup. Gruden confirmed the team’s first-round pick will start his career there, per NFL.com’s James Palmer (on Twitter), despite the team being in need of an immediate right tackle starter. Third-round pick Brandon Parker will work at that position.
  • Maurice Hurst Jr.‘s been cleared for workouts and participated in the first day of the Raiders’ minicamp. Gruden said (via Bair, on Twitter) the team doesn’t have any reservations about the Michigan product, whose heart issues played a major role in him sliding into the fifth round. Gruden believes the Raiders landed the top two interior pass rushers in the draft in Hurst and second-round pick P.J. Hall, per Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (via Twitter).
  • The 49ers plan to move third-round pick Tarvarius Moore from cornerback to safety, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee notes. The Southern Mississippi alum ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, and his 6-foot-2 frame also makes John Lynch believe he could stick at corner. Interestingly, 5-9 safety D.J. Reed — an outside corner at Kansas State — will compete with K’Waun Williams for the slot job, per Barrows, but also practice at safety. San Francisco’s brass is clearly unafraid to shuttle its defensive backs around, having Jimmie Ward ready to potentially switch positions for the fourth straight offseason.
  • Would-be third-year DB Dexter McCoil broke a bone in his foot training independently, leading the 49ers to waive him with an NFI distinction, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. A 16-game Charger participant in 2016 and having played eight games with the 49ers last season, McCoil is facing a four- to six-week recovery period, per Maiocco.

Draft Rumors: Ravens, Seahawks, 49ers, Pats

Let’s dive into some last-minute draft rumors as we anticipate the start of the first round…

  • Should the Ravens go on the clock and Mike McGlinchey is off the board, it looks like they will strongly consider UCLA’s Kolton Miller. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets the Ravens are focused on Miller as a McGlinchey contingency plan at No. 16. These two are viewed by many as the top tackles in this year’s draft. Although Baltimore needs a right tackle after cutting Austin Howard, this serves as one of the possible Lamar Jackson destinations. Assuming the top four QB prospects are gone by this point in the draft, it could open up the trade market for the picks in the latter teens with the 2016 Heisman winner still available.
  • Albert Breer of SI.com writes that there are several teams interested in moving down, including the 49ers (No. 9), Seahawks (No. 18), Lions (No. 20), Titans (No. 25), and Eagles (No. 32). Seattle would have particular interest in trading their pick if safety Derwin James or any of the top pass-rushers are off the board. Meanwhile, Breer notes that San Francisco could benefit if a quarterback-needy team wants to trade up.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets that he keeps hearing Miami defensive lineman Chad Thomas being connected to the Patriots. Thomas didn’t earn a spot on NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah’s top-50 list, and he’s ultimately projected to be a third- or fourth-round pick. The senior was plenty productive in 2017, compiling 41 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.