Michael Schofield

AFC Notes: Chargers, Schofield, Vaccaro, Titans, Jets

The Chargers are seemingly never able to stay healthy, and this year hasn’t been any different. They’ve already lost Hunter Henry and Jason Verrett to season ending injuries. Last year’s second round pick, guard Forrest Lamp, has been expected to start for the team in 2018, but has been very slow in recovering from a knee injury that cost him his whole rookie season.

Michael Schofield is filling in for now, and in a recent interview with Dan Woike of the San Diego Union-Tribune, talked about his role. “I’m kind of a plug-and-play guy. I can play guard. I can play tackle. Right now, they need me at guard, so that’s where I’m going to be.” Woike echoes the sentiment many Charger fans have felt about Lamp, writing “even if Lamp is healthy, he still has much to prove, considering he essentially has not practiced since being drafted in the second round a year ago.”

Given Lamp’s history, it’s entirely possible Schofield ends up being a starting guard for the Chargers this year. Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Kenny Vaccaro only signed with the Titans earlier this week, but is already operating as the team’s starter according to Turron Davenport of ESPN (Twitter link). Davenport writes that Vaccaro has “taken pretty much all of the first-team reps” since signing with the team in the wake of Johnathan Cyprien’s season ending injury.
  • “Things aren’t looking great” for Juston Burris‘ roster chances, according to Matt Stypulkoski of NJ.com. The Jets’ fourth round pick in 2016, Burris hasn’t shown much through two seasons and appears likely to be cut at this point.
  • “It wouldn’t be a total shock to see the Jets in the mix” if the Raiders decide to shop Khalil Mack, writes Stypulkoski. Stypulkoski writes that the Jets “are looking to bolster the pass rush” so it sounds like whether it’s Mack or someone else, the Jets may be making a move soon.

Chargers Re-Sign OT Michael Schofield

The Chargers have agreed to a two-year deal with tackle Michael Schofield, according to James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter). Schofield was ticketed for free agency, but he’s now under contract through the 2019 season. 

[RELATED: Chargers Depth Chart]

Schofield, 28 in November, appeared in 15 games with five starts for the Bolts last season. Before that, he started for the Broncos at right tackle in 2015 and at right guard in 2016.

The Bolts claimed him off waivers in September of last year, but they weren’t the only team after him. The Lions, Redskins, Vikings, and Saints all tried to snag him, but the Chargers won out due to their higher position in the waiver order.

Schofield graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 61 ranked tackle last year, per Pro Football Focus. His best season, by their measure, was in ’16 when he was playing on the interior.

While it’s possible Schofield could return as a starter, that’s only likely to occur if Los Angeles parts ways with right tackle Joe Barksdale. The Chargers do have other offensive line free agents, including Matt Slauson, Kenny Wiggins, and Michael Ola, so Schofield will serve as critical depth, at the least.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Ward, Donald, Hawks, Schofield

John Elway spoke with T.J. Ward‘s agent earlier this summer and informed him the team did not intend to sign the veteran safety to an extension, with the GM telling media (including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post) a Ward re-up was not in the team’s plans “at that point of time.” The Broncos made Ward one of the highest-profile cuts of the roster-slashing weekend, but Jhabvala reports the team did not come to a decision on Ward until last week. The rise of second-year safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks, along with Ward’s injury history, played a role in the departure.

Citing a lack of clarity during the process, Ward on Monday called the Broncos “completely unprofessional” regarding the separation. The divorce came with one season remaining on the 30-year-old defender’s four-year contract. The eighth-year safety will earn up to $5MM with the Buccaneers this season. Ward missed all of Denver’s preseason games with a hamstring injury and missed six games due to injury in three Broncos campaigns — two of which producing Pro Bowls. Mike Klis of 9News described the process as Simmons — a 2016 third-round pick who served as Denver’s third safety last season — Wally Pipp’ing Ward (Twitter link). Klis notes Elway gave Ward “every chance” to make this year’s team.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions, shifting to Seattle, which just made the biggest trade in a week full of them.

  • The injury to rookie Malik McDowell prompted the Seahawks to trade for Sheldon Richardson, Pete Carroll said, via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta (on Twitter). Currently on the NFI list, McDowell does not have a timetable for a return, Condotta adds (via Twitter). Carroll said the team could still look to add another defensive tackle (Twitter link, via Condotta).
  • Richardson will play the three-technique position in the Seahawks’ 4-3 scheme, the fifth-year defensive lineman said Monday (via Condotta, on Twitter). He will line up inside of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, giving the Seahawks one of the most talented defensive fronts in football. Richardson primarily played 3-4 defensive end with the Jets but also saw time at outside linebacker. He played 4-3 defensive tackle at the University of Missouri, though.
  • Aaron Donald remains a holdout as the Rams begin their Week 1 preparations, but Sean McVay won’t impose a deadline on how late the All-Pro defensive lineman can report to the team and still play Sunday, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports. Rams reps flew to Atlanta to meet with Donald, but the sides reportedly aren’t close to a deal. Gonzalez adds McVay nonetheless remains “optimistic” about a solution.
  • A two-position starter for the Broncos during the past two seasons, Michael Schofield attracted widespread interest on the waiver wire. The Chargers won out due to their position in the waiver hierarchy, but the Lions, Redskins, Vikings and Saints also put in claims on the fourth-year guard/tackle, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. A 2014 third-rounder, Schofield started for the Broncos at right tackle during their Super Bowl season and lined up at right guard throughout 2016. While Denver didn’t sport particularly effective O-lines during those seasons, Schofield clearly has believers out there.
  • Speaking of waivers, the Seahawks hoped they’d have a chance to stash wide receiver Kasen Williams on their practice squad, Carroll said (via Condotta, on Twitter), but the Browns swooped in with a claim. The Seahawks will move on without Williams and Jermaine Kearse, traded to the Jets in the Richardson deal. Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett are now Seattle’s top complementary wideouts, and Lockett (per Condotta, on Twitter) is expected to play in Week 1 after breaking his fibula late last season.

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC West

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC West teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Broncos, Chiefs, Chargers, and Raiders are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s AFC West transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Denver Broncos

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Oakland Raiders

Chargers Claim Michael Schofield Off Waivers

Michael Schofield was claimed by the Chargers, as Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post tweets. The Broncos waived the offensive lineman on Saturday as they cut down to a 53-man roster.

Schofield has appeared in and started in 29 contests for the Broncos over the last two years. This summer, he asked for a trade when it became clear that he would not make the cut. The Broncos tried, but could not find any takers.

Last year, Schofield finished out as the No. 48 ranked guard in the NFL out of 75 qualified players. He’s not a world beater by any means, but the Bolts need all the help they can get on the offensive line. Second round pick Forrest Lamp is out for the year with a torn ACL and interior lineman Max Tuerk is suspended through Week 4 after violating the league’s PED policy.

Broncos Down To 52-Man Roster

The Broncos are down to a 52-man roster. Why 52, you ask? That’s because their signing of quarterback Brock Osweiler is not yet official. Once he’s inked, they’ll be at the 53-man max.

The Broncos also have Shane Ray on the active roster as of this writing. If they place him on IR, they’ll have another spot to work with.

Here’s the full look at their roster:

Released:

Waived:

Waived/Injured:

  • LB Kevin Snyder

Placed On IR:

Reserve/NFI:

Broncos Waive OL Michael Schofield

The Broncos parted ways with another of their recent offensive line investments. A day after trading Ty Sambrailo to the Falcons, the Broncos cut Michael Schofield, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post tweets.

Jhabvala adds (via Twitter) the fourth-year offensive lineman asked to be traded after it became clear there wasn’t a spot for him on the roster. The Broncos shopped Schofield, per Jhabvala, but evidently couldn’t find a willing suitor like they did for Sambrailo.

Schofield started at two positions with Denver the past two years — right tackle in 2015 and right guard last season — but the Broncos have again made significant changes in hopes of improving an offensive line that’s been shaky during this span.

The 2014 third-round pick will venture onto waivers and has enough experience to generate interest, despite being graded as a below-average blocker by Pro Football Focus since becoming a regular up front.

Schofield essentially redshirted his rookie year, but following injuries to Ryan Clady and Sambrailo in 2015, was summoned to play right tackle. He started 13 games for the Super Bowl champion Broncos iteration and moved inside to guard with Denver’s first unit for all 16 last season.

Denver, though, acquired Ronald Leary, Allen Barbre and Menelik Watson this offseason to make Schofield’s place on the roster uncertain. Max Garcia looms as guard depth, and Donald Stephenson — after twice reworking his contract — looks to be safe as a result of this move and the Falcons’ trade for Sambrailo.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2017 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Donte Moncrief (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.8MM in 2017. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2017 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Aaron Lynch, LB; Marcus Martin, OL

Bears: Charles Leno, T; Will Sutton, DT

Bengals: Russell Bodine, C

Bills: Preston Brown, LB; Seantrel Henderson, T

Broncos: Michael Schofield, OL

Browns: Christian Kirksey, LB

Buccaneers: Kevin Pamphile, G

Cardinals: John Brown, WR

Chiefs: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G; Zach Fulton, G; Phillip Gaines, CB

Colts: Donte Moncrief, WR

Cowboys: Anthony Hitchens, LB

Falcons: Devonta Freeman, RB

Giants: Devon Kennard, LB

Jaguars: Aaron Colvin, CB; Brandon Linder, G; Telvin Smith, LB

Lions: Nevin Lawson, CB; Travis Swanson, C

Packers: Corey Linsley, C; Richard Rodgers, TE

Panthers: Tre Boston, S; Trai Turner, G

Raiders: T.J. Carrie, CB; Justin Ellis, DT; Gabe Jackson, G

Rams: Maurice Alexander, S; E.J. Gaines, CB

Redskins: Bashaud Breeland, CB; Spencer Long, G; Morgan Moses, T

Texans: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE; Andre Hal, S

Titans: DaQuan Jones, DL; Avery Williamson, LB

Vikings: Shamar Stephen, DT

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Rumors: Miller, Elway, Schofield

In an offseason where Andrew Luck looms as an expiring contract, not much has emerged on that front. Instead, Von Miller‘s Broncos negotiation has seized command of the NFL financial news cycle.

In the past two weeks, Miller’s situation with the Broncos transformed from pleasant to contentious, with the fearsome edge defender turning down a six-year, $114.5MM offer and threatening to hold out. There was also the deep-cutting Instagram cropping out of John Elway from a White House photo taken earlier this month.

The Miller camp being fine with the total value of the deal pushes guaranteed money to the forefront of negotiations that figure to pick up again as the July 15 deadline looms. The Broncos, though, could have several reasons for offering Miller less than $40MM in fully guaranteed money, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out.

The team fearing a Miller tailspin either in the form of a return of the substance-abuse issues that plagued him in 2013 — his only non-Pro Bowl season, one that included a six-game suspension — or in the form of an immense dip in production a la Albert Haynesworth with the 2009 Redskins. The latter seems particularly unlikely given Miller’s five-year sample size for the team with which he’s negotiating.

Florio also writes that Miller is not seeking to dwarf Ndamukong Suh‘s $59.5MM in full guarantees at signing, but rather to have as much as $70MM in guarantees to vest by March 2017 instead of March 2018. Denver would then be required to fund the remaining guaranteed money that didn’t come as fully guaranteed dollars upon signing by then. The Eagles gave Fletcher Cox $63MM in guarantees, with $55MM+ of that amount becoming fully guaranteed by March of 2017. With Cox making one Pro Bowl and no All-Pro first teams compared to Miller’s four and two such achievements, Florio notes a $70MM guarantee vesting by next March is a plausible request for the 27-year-old pass-rusher.

Here’s more on the Broncos and the AFC West.

  • Elway’s been able to deftly navigate delicate situations during his Broncos GM tenure, from cutting Peyton Manning‘s pay to jettisoning Elvis Dumervil after a fax machine foul-up and trading Tim Tebow. But Miller’s status in the game after his Super Bowl MVP performance and five-sack playoffs could loom as a bigger hurdle than both given how important Elway’s first Broncos draft pick is to the team’s success, Mark Kizsla of the Denver Post writes.
  • The fourth option to start at tackle for the Broncos in 2015 but a player who ended up being the Super Bowl champions’ primary right tackle as a result of injuries to Ryan Clady and Ty Sambrailo, Michael Schofield did not put together consistent film in his second season as a pro. The Broncos brought in Donald Stephenson to take his spot despite Stephenson delivering unspectacular production with the Chiefs, but Schofield’s added weight in the offseason to help his cause, Mike Klis of 9News reports. He’s up to close to 310 pounds now after playing at under 300 in 2015. Out of 77 tackles assigned grades as full-time performers in 2015 by Pro Football Focus, the 2014 third-round pick ranked 66th. Although Schofield lined up exclusively at left tackle in minicamp due to Russell Okung‘s absence, he’ll likely return to his role of swing backup given Denver’s three-year, $14MM commitment to Stephenson — who actually rated 69th on PFF’s list last season. Denver, though, believes the 2012 third-round Chiefs pick will be better as a zone-blocker than he was in Kansas City’s power-blocking scheme.
  • After Brandon Marshall became the first non-rush linebacker to sign an extension in Denver since Joe Mays in 2012, we also heard Emmanuel Sanders will be the next Denver cog extended.

AFC Rumors: Chargers, Gore, Broncos, Browns

San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer did some scouting before this week’s critical Los Angeles-related owners’ meeting, in paying visits to three owners and commissioner Roger Goodell, according to David Garrick of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Along with Goodell, Faulconer met with John Mara (Giants), Robert Kraft (Patriots) and Jerry Richardson (Panthers) — each a member of the six-owner committee in charge of assessing Los Angeles’ feasibility as the Chargers, Raiders and Rams vie for relocation — and has requested summits with the committee’s other members, Clark Hunt (Chiefs), Bob McNair (Texans) and Art Rooney II (Steelers).

The prior trio of owners, however, did not say to Faulconer which way they were leaning, or if they did, Faulconer is not communicating that sentiment to the media. Per Garrick, the mayor’s expressing confidence thanks to a joint-county $1.1 billion stadium plan that would call for the prospective new Chargers’ home to be built over Qualcomm Stadium.

No votes are expected on Los Angeles at this week’s meeting, with a final decision likely coming around Super Bowl week, according to Garrick.

Here is some news from the facilities of the Chargers’ AFC brethren.

  • Due to Ty Sambrailo‘s shoulder injury, Peyton Manning will have another first-time blocker Sunday when Michael Schofield joins the Broncos‘ starting offensive line, per Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press. A third-round pick in 2014, Schofield’s been deactivated for each of the 20 games he’s been on the active roster, counting Denver’s divisional playoff loss last season, and he will take Ryan Harris‘ place at right tackle as Harris shifts to the left side.
  • Colts running back Frank Gore remains miffed 49ers GM Trent Baalke didn’t communicate with him this offseason he left the team after 10 years this winter, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com writes. “The only thing I was hurt by was that I thought we could have (separated) better,” Gore told the Indianapolis Star’s Stephen Holder. “I don’t know if I even wanted to go back. But I would have felt better if we would have sat down and had a conversation. I mean, I was going to test the market no matter what. Me and the head coach talked and he basically told me I’d be in a certain situation. But I wanted to hear it from the GM.
  • In addressing the issues with the Browns‘ offensive line, Terry Pluto of cleveland.com doesn’t think Joel Bitonio and Alex Mack are performing to the level they did at this point last year. The Browns rank 26th in rushing yards, and Football Outsiders grades the Cleveland front as the 27th-best power-blocking quintet thus far.