- The Rams‘ cap situation won’t serve as an impediment to what would surely be a landmark extension for Aaron Donald, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). This is interesting because the Rams are just $2.142MM under the cap, according to OverTheCap. Gonzalez offers that a Trumaine Johnson extension would help free up space, with the cornerback tethered to a $16.74MM cap figure, but Les Snead said the team won’t hold extension talks with Johnson until after OTAs conclude. Gonzalez also posits that Donald could look to compromise on a deal, with the Rams agreeing to raise his salary before an extension kicks in after the 2018 season. That said, it would likely have to be a considerable bump for such a sacrifice to be a consideration for Donald’s camp considering how high the two-time All-Pro’s value is presently.
Here are today’s minor moves.
- Former Chargers sixth-round pick Tourek Williams signed with the Chiefs, who cut Victor Ochi in a Monday exchange of linebackers. Williams is entering his fifth season after playing four with the Chargers. Williams started in six games as a rookie and played in 16 during the 2014 and ’16 campaigns. He saw a broken foot end his 2015 slate after three games.
- The Saints signed tackle Bryce Harris and waived defensive back Forrest Hightower. Harris played three seasons, 2012-14, with the Saints before bouncing around the league. He failed to make New Orleans’ 53-man roster out of training camp in 2015 but returns nearly two years later. The former UDFA out of Fresno State has four career starts on his resume, each with New Orleans.
- The Rams signed defensive tackles Omarius Bryant and A.J. Jefferson while waiving offensive lineman Kwayde Miller. Meanwhile, defensive back Dravious Wright left the team. Wright caught on with the Rams as a UDFA last month. Jefferson is a UDFA out of Mississippi State. The Ravens cut Bryant, who played at Western Kentucky.
- The Patriots re-signed wide receiver DeAndrew White, who spent the 2016 season on the team’s practice squad. White was originally a 49ers UDFA addition in 2015. He saw action in four games with San Francisco that season as a return man.
The Rams are progressing on what would be a major development for their long-term plans, with GM Les Snead confirming the team’s contract talks with Aaron Donald are advancing. They’re now in the “serious” phase and have gotten to the point the All-Pro defensive tackle is not presently at OTAs, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports.
Donald may be trying to avoid injury while these talks are ongoing, Steve Wyche of NFL.com tweets. Snead said the parties have been discussing an extension for a while and hopes the sides can reach a deal soon, per Wyche. The GM said at the Combine that Donald “deserves a raise.”
Gonzalez offers that a deal for Donald may indeed have to make him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player, at least during his extension years. Donald has two years remaining on his rookie contract — the first at $3.225MM and the fifth-year option season at $6.892MM. It’s unknown at this point if the Rams are talking about a deal that would go into effect in 2017 or ’18, or commence after those years conclude. It’s likely Donald’s camp would want an extension to begin as soon as possible, given the raise that would be attached to such an agreement.
Snead confirmed in March these talks were coming, and they look to be moving well. A Donald deal would stand to reset the market for defensive tackles, even though he could be categorized as a 3-4 end after the Wade Phillips-orchestrated move will shift the Rams’ base to that scheme. As a 4-3 defensive tackle, Donald’s moved into a class by himself. He rated as Pro Football Focus’ top interior defender last season. has two first-team All-Pro slates to his credit and hasn’t missed a game in his three years in St. Louis and Los Angeles.
The defensive line market stops at Ndamukong Suh‘s six-year, $114.3MM deal. Von Miller also signed for six years and $114MM-plus and became the league’s highest-paid defender last summer. Either way, Donald would be looking at a monstrous raise.
Los Angeles currently has barely $2MM in cap space, but that’s scheduled to expand considerably come 2018. Per OverTheCap, more than $54MM is set to be available for the Rams, before factoring in any cuts. This figure also doesn’t consider a possible long-term extension for Trumaine Johnson, who is anchored to Los Angeles’ payroll at a $16.742MM cap figure.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- The Rams announced Thursday that the Inglewood-based stadium they and the Chargers were to supposed to play in beginning in 2019 won’t be ready until 2020. Southern California experienced record-setting rainfall over the winter, leading to “significant delays” in construction, according to the Rams. Consequently, they’ll call the LA Coliseum home for an extra season, while the Chargers will play at the 30,000-seat StubHub Center through the 2019 campaign.
Today’s minor moves:
- Signed: TE Desean Smith
- Signed: DE Darnell Leslie, TE T.J. McFarland
- Waived: C Michael Coe, LB Jeremiah George, T Levon Myers
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Rams
- Claimed off waivers: C Austin Blythe (Link via Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com), DB Dominique Hatfield
- Waived: LB Folarin Orimolade
- Waived: DL B.J. Dubose
- Signed: LB Matt Galambos, QB Bart Houston (Twitter link via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Waived: CB Devonte Johnson, TE Ryan Malleck
Earlier today, we rounded up some minor moves out of the AFC. In the interest of equal time, we turn our attention to the NFC:
- The Rams signed two Northwestern State alums in wide receiver Shakeir Ryan and running back De’Mard Llorens, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports. In addition to the skill-position talents from the Natchitoches, Louisiana-based program, the Rams added another small-school product in Mary Hardin-Baylor linebacker Teidrick Smith. The two Division I-FCS talents and Division III defender will displace two Rams in defensive back Jared Collins and offensive lineman Shaq McMeans, per Gonzalez. Their roster currently houses 89 players.
- Former Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas signed with the Saints, who also added guard Josh LeRibeus and running back Trey Edmunds, Nick Underhill of The Advocate reports. The 5-foot-11 Thomas operated as a dual-threat quarterback with the Yellowjackets and probably would convert positions for an NFL opportunity. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore in the program’s run-centric offense and threw for 18 touchdown passes that season. In the two subsequent slates, Thomas combined to throw 21 TDs. The son of former Dolphins Pro Bowl tight end Ferrell Edmunds, Trey Edmunds served as a reserve at Virginia Tech and Maryland.
- On a busy Monday, the Saints signed Drew Iddings, a source tells Underhill (on Twitter). Iddings, a former defensive lineman, will be trying to stick as an offensive guard. The 6-foot-6, 290-pound athlete has no significant experience on offense, but New Orleans believes that the powerful lineman can make a smooth transition. In college at South Dakota, Iddings appeared in 46 games and totaled 149 tackles and eight sacks.
- The Seahawks cut quarterback Skyler Howard and fullback Brandon Cottom and signed fullback Kyle Coleman and wide receiver Speedy Noil, per a team announcement. Noil entered the draft early out of Texas A&M. He caught just 42 passes combined the past two seasons.
- Giants signed wide receiver Kevin Snead, a Carson-Newman product, after his tryout. Snead, a former track star, reportedly ran a sub-4.3-second 40-yard-dash. To make room, the team waived offensive lineman Martin Wallace.
- The Lions have signed free agent offensive tackle Arturo Uzdavinis and waived tackle Pierce Burton.
- The Vikings signed guard Freddie Tagaloa after a successful rookie minicamp tryout, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
- The Cardinals signed wide receiver Larry Clark.
There were rumblings earlier this offseason about Eddie Lacy‘s conditioning, but the running back made weight on his first scheduled weigh-in of the offseason, per his agents (on Twitter). By weighing in at 253 pounds (under the 255-pound requirement), the Seahawks running back will earn a $55K bonus on his free agent deal. From here on out, he’ll weigh in every month from now through the end of the calendar year and make $55K by coming in under the max. To cash in on all of these weight-driven incentives, he’ll need to weigh 250 in June, July and August and 245 from September through December.
Lacy reportedly weighed in at 267 pounds during one of his free agent visits and while that hasn’t been confirmed by the player, the Seahawks apparently felt a need to keep him on track throughout the year. Lacy signed with Seattle this offseason on a one-year, $5.5MM deal with $3MM fully guaranteed. If Lacy can keep the extra weight off while moving the chains, he’ll could be in line for a more lucrative deal next spring.
Here’s more out of the NFC West:
- Cardinals coach Bruce Arians believes that Blaine Gabbert can get a “fresh start” with the Cardinals, as Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com writes. Gabbert, a former first-round pick, is 9-31 in his NFL career as a starter. Arians argues that a lack of stability has hurt his progress. In six seasons, Gabbert has played for seven head coaches and six different offensive coordinators on two teams. He’ll now try to make things work with a third team after signing with the Cardinals this month.
- The Rams want Tavon Austin to play a DeSean Jackson-type role in the new offense, as Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com writes. Austin is facing a critical year as the team can cut him loose next year with just $5MM in dead money. The Rams gave him a fat four-year, $42MM extension just weeks before the start of the 2016 season, but he’ll have to show something to the new staff if he wants to play out that contract.
- The 49ers tried to trade into the middle of the first round to select Reuben Foster. Luckily for them, Foster continued to slip and SF managed to get him with a late first round pick acquired during the draft.
- The Rams‘ center position is hardly settled, as injury-prone John Sullivan sits atop the depth chart with only Demetrius Rhaney, a special-teams contributor and a natural guard, behind him. As such, Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Daily News writes that UDFA Jake Eldrenkamp, who did not play center at all in college but whose body and skill-set are best-suited to center at the professional level, has a real chance of winning the starting job this summer. At the very least, he could make the team as Sullivan’s backup.
- Previous defensive coordinators have used Mark Barron all around the field, but Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said he’ll solely be using the veteran at linebacker. “He’s really instinctive,” Phillips said (via ESPN.com’s Alden Gonzalez). “He’s got great speed, and we can utilize his coverage ability at linebacker. It gives you more options as far as things you want to do defensively. If you get a guy like that who can cover people, then we’re going to utilize that.”