Mike Pouncey

Chargers’ Mike Pouncey Medically Cleared

Chargers center Mike Pouncey, who missed most of the 2019 season with a neck injury, has been medically cleared, as Pouncey himself told reporters this morning (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). In April, GM Tom Telesco provided a positive status report (Twitter link via Fernando Ramirez of NBC Sports), and Pouncey has now taken the last step in his recovery.

[RELATED: Chargers Interested In Jason Peters?] 

Pouncey, a four-time Pro Bowler, suffered the neck injury in an early October game and was forced to undergo surgery. It was just one of several injuries for the Bolts in 2019, but this one was serious enough to have lifelong ramifications. Fortunately, Pouncey appears to have dodged a major bullet.

Pouncey spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Dolphins before his release in 2018. The Chargers gladly picked him up off the pile and he turned in a Pro Bowl performance for his new team. Then, before the start of last season, he inked a one-year, $9MM deal to extend his stay through 2020.

When Pouncey went down last year, the Chargers moved Dan Feeney from left guard to the middle to replace Pouncey, and plugged Forrest Lamp into Feeney’s spot. They also used 2018 fifth-round pick Scott Quessenberry to help fill the void. Of course, they will be much better off with the 30-year-old (31 in July) on the field.

The Bolts did not select an interior offensive lineman in this year’s draft, which is perhaps indicative of their faith in Pouncey’s successful return.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Chargers’ Mike Pouncey, QB Situation

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn spoke at length with reporters yesterday, and two of the most significant topics he covered were the team’s quarterback situation and center Mike Pouncey‘s status.

Pouncey, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Dolphins, was released by Miami in March 2018 and quickly caught on with the Chargers. The pickup proved to be a savvy one for the Bolts, as Pouncey rewarded the team with a Pro Bowl performance and agreed to a one-year extension prior to the 2019 campaign that kept him under club control through 2020.

Unfortunately, the 2019 season did not go as planned for Pouncey or the Chargers. Pouncey landed on IR with a neck injury that required surgery, and as Lynn observed, the 30-year-old pivot has not yet been cleared for football activities (Twitter link via Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times). However, Lynn does expect Pouncey to be cleared by the time players reconvene — whenever that is — and he suggested that he is comfortable with the club’s other options in the event Pouncey is not ready to go. Dan Feeney, currently penciled in at left guard, and 2018 fifth-rounder Scott Quessenberry combined to fill the void left by Pouncey, but neither player performed particularly well in that role.

As for the team’s QB situation, Lynn confirmed that Tyrod Taylor is the team’s starter for now, as Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com writes. That is not at all surprising given that the only other signal-caller currently on the roster is 2019 fifth-rounder Easton Stick, but Lynn did create a little intrigue. Per Thiry, Lynn was asked specifically about the Chargers’ interest in Cam Newton, and after initially avoiding a similar question, Lynn said, “[w]e’re looking at everybody. I want to turn over every single rock, so yeah, we’re looking at everybody.”

More likely than not, that statement is basic coach-speak. After all, we heard just a couple of weeks ago that the Chargers have no intention of acquiring another veteran QB to compete with Taylor, and it seems more plausible that the club will select a QB with the No. 6 overall pick and roll into the 2020 season with Taylor and the rookie passer at the top of the depth chart. On the other hand, Los Angeles is built to win now, and its offseason moves were clearly made with an eye towards competing in 2020. If healthy, Newton is a dramatic upgrade over Taylor — whose release would free up $5MM of cap space — so it stands to reason that Lynn would at least consider that option.

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Chargers Place C Mike Pouncey On IR

That’s a wrap on Mike Pouncey‘s season. On Wednesday, the Bolts placed the center on injured reserve, per a club announcement. 

Pouncey, a four-time Pro Bowler, exited the Chargers’ loss early on Sunday with a neck injury that required surgery. That will rule him out for the year and, potentially, could impact his ability to play beyond 2019.

The Chargers moved Dan Feeney from left guard to center to replace Pouncey, and plugged Forrest Lamp into Feeney’s spot. That’ll likely be the game plan going forward, but the club has yet to announce anything on that front.

To help fill the void, the Chargers signed center/guard Ryan Groy. Groy spent the last four seasons with the Bills and spent this past offseason with the Saints. He has 55 career appearances, including 17 starts, to his credit, with most of his time spent at center.

It’s another bad blow for the Bolts, who have already placed safeties Derwin James and Adrian Phillips on IR this year. On the offensive line, they’ve been without left tackle Russell Okung.

Pouncey‘s recent one-year, $9MM extension with the Chargers takes him through the 2020 season and guarantees him $5MM in new money.

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Restructured Contract Details: Flacco, Solder, Panthers

With the majority of the NFL beginning their 2019 campaigns tomorrow, a number of teams have slightly tweaked contracts in an effort to open some extra cap space. We’ve compiled some of the notable restructured contracts from this morning, along with some details on some recently-completed deals.

  •  The Broncos converted $17MM of Joe Flacco‘s base salary into a signing bonus, reports NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). The front office also added a pair of voidable years to the contract, thus opening around $13.6MM in 2019 cap space. The veteran quarterback is still on the books for $20.25MM in 2020 and $24.25MM in 2021.
  • The Giants made a similar move with offensive tackle Nate Solder, according to Pelissero (on Twitter). The front office converted $7.5MM of the veteran’s base salary to a fully-guaranteed roster bonus, opening up $5MM in cap space. Solder will still earn the same amount of money over the next two years ($13MM in 2019, $14MM in 2020).
  • One more from Pelissero (via Twitter): the Panthers restructured the contracts of defensive tackle Kawann Short and offensive lineman Trai Turner, opening $13MM in cap space. While the team could use that open money for extensions, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets that the transaction is “more about taking cap space into next year.” Linebacker Shaq Thompson and cornerback James Bradberry are impending free agents, while running back Christian McCaffrey and quarterback Cam Newton could be eyeing lucrative extensions.
  • The Rams converted $2.25MM of punter Johnny Hekker‘s base salary into a bonus, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). The move opens up around $1.69MM in cap space, allowing the team is better accommodate the recent extensions for quarterback Jared Goff and tight end Tyler Higbee.
  • Center Mike Pouncey‘s one-year, $9MM extension with the Chargers will guarantee him $5MM in new money, tweets ESPN’s Dan Graziano (via Twitter). The guarantees include a $2.5MM signing bonus and $2.5MM guaranteed salary in 2020 (the full base salary is $6MM). The veteran’s cap number is now $10MM in 2019 and $7.75MM in 2020.
  • Jacoby Brissett‘s two-year, $30MM extension with the Colts includes an $11MM signing bonus, reports Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). The quarterback has a $2MM salary for 2019, $2MM in per-game roster bonuses (for both years), and a $7MM roster bonus that’s guaranteed in March. As Volin notes, the 26-year-old will likely earn around $13MM to $15MM this season before renegotiating next offseason.
  • Josh Doctson‘s deal with the Vikings is for one year at the league minimum of $720K, reports Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (via Twitter). The deal includes no guaranteed money. Following the signing of the wideout and punter Britton Colquitt, Minnesota is now sitting with around $1.17MM in cap space.

AFC Notes: Colts, Pouncey, Marshall, Calitro

The Colts confirmed Jim Irsay received a $3.2 billion offer to sell the team, the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson and Nat Newell report. A Colts spokesperson informed the newspaper’s duo the team is not for sale. Still, that reported offer came in far north of what it cost for David Tepper to acquire the Panthers last year ($2.3 billion). It would have been a record price for an NFL franchise. Forbes’ most recent valuation of NFL teams placed the Colts 20th at $2.65 billion — up 11% from last year’s figure. The Irsay family has owned the Colts since 1972.

Moving back to on-field matters, here is the latest out of the AFC:

  • Mike Pouncey asked his agent, Joel Segal, to pursue a new deal with the Chargers, Eric Williams of ESPN.com notes. The Pro Bowl center signed a one-year, $9MM re-up; the 30-year-old blocker wanted to stay with a team he felt had Super Bowl aspirations rather than try to maximize his value on the open market. “At this point of my career, this team gives me the best chance to win,” Pouncey said, via Williams. “For me to want to leave here in Year 10 and go somewhere else, it didn’t make any sense to me, no matter what the number was in salary. I felt like whenever we got done with training camp and the offer was there, we jumped on it.” Pouncey, who did not play in a playoff game in seven Dolphins seasons, started 16 games for the Bolts last year.
  • Brandon Marshall worked out for the Texans this week but was not signed. The former Super Bowl starter and recent Raiders cut mentioned to ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson the Texans informed him a signing could take place after Week 1 (Twitter link). Marshall spent much of the offseason rehabbing a knee injury that helped lead to his Broncos departure, mentioning on Hard Knocks he was in pain for much of that time. However, the soon-to-be 30-year-old off-ball linebacker said during the HBO series finale he has returned to full health — albeit too late to make the Raiders. The Texans feature Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham as their starting inside ‘backers but are much less proven behind them.
  • The Jaguars claimed linebacker Austin Calitro off waivers from Seattle, but other AFC teams wanted to add the recently cut defender. Both the Broncos and Bengals submitted claims for Calitro, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. But the Jags’ higher waiver priority, No. 7, won out. Both Denver and Cincinnati are thin at inside ‘backer presently.
  • Myles Jack‘s recent Jags extension secured him the NFL’s second-highest guarantee figure.
  • The Dolphins’ inexperienced defensive line became even less seasoned, with the team cutting Nate Orchard.

Chargers, Mike Pouncey Agree To Extension

The Chargers are signing center Mike Pouncey to a one-year, $9MM extension that ties him to the team through the 2020 season, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Pouncey, one of the best centers in the game, was originally set to reach free agency after the 2019 campaign. 

The Bolts picked up Pouncey in March of 2018 with a two-year, $15MM deal that included $10MM fully guaranteed. Pouncey earned his fourth Pro Bowl nod last year and the deal proved to be a brilliant one for LA. This time around, Pouncey gets a pay bump, but it’s still a worthwhile investment for GM Tom Telesco & Co.

Even though the club worked something out with their center, they’re still refusing to talk with star Melvin Gordon about a possible extension.

In other Bolts news – the club was forced to place safety Derwin James on injured reserve over the weekend. Fortunately, James is expected to recover in time to return in the middle of the season.

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East Notes: Dolphins, Pouncey, Cowboys

A look at some items out of the AFC and NFC East:

  • The Dolphins have replaced Mike Pouncey with Daniel Kilgore, but they do not believe that they have lost an elite center. “Mike was maybe the best or second-best center in the league two or three years ago,” a team source told Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald. Kilgore, they feel, will give Miami a bump in run blocking, but not necessarily in pass protection. He also brings more size to the position and is something of an iron addict whereas Pouncey was never an enthusiastic weight room guy.
  • New Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn says he was “pretty much shocked, honestly” upon learning that he had been traded from the Rams to the Dolphins (Twitter links via Salguero). “It’s like this, this is the first time I’ve been traded. You commit yourself to someone and you have your family turn their back on you,” Quinn said. Quinn, 28 in May, racked up 8.5 sacks in 15 games for L.A. last season. He has 62.5 career sacks to his credit, dating back to 2011. The Bucs and Browns also explored trades for Quinn before he was shipped to Miami.
  • Defensive end Kony Ealy and the Cowboys remain in talks, Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram tweets. However, it might take a couple of days before a decision is made.

Mike Pouncey Signs 2-Year Deal With Chargers

The Chargers announced Tuesday that they’ve agreed to a two-year deal with Mike Pouncey after the three-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman visited the team’s facility earlier in the day. The visit with the Chargers was the first for Pouncey with another team since he requested and was granted his release from the Dolphins last week.

The Chargers are set to give Pouncey $15MM over the two-year deal, with $10MM guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

Pouncey certainly serves as an upgrade to the Chargers’ interior offensive line, with Spencer Pulley and second-year guard Dan Feeney previously set to return at center and right guard, respectively. They also lost versatile offensive lineman Kenny Wiggins to the Lions in free agency this offseason.

Matt Slauson, who started seven games at left guard for the Chargers last year before a biceps injury cut his season short, is an unrestricted free agent and has already visited with the Lions, with a visit scheduled Tuesday with the Colts, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Colts had also reportedly shown interest in Pouncey.

The Dolphins and Pouncey parted ways last week after drafting him with the 15th overall pick of the 2011 draft out of Florida. He battled a hip injury last season but still managed to start all 16 games for the third time in his career. He was graded as the No. 25 center in the NFL out of qualifiers last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Hip injuries have hampered Pouncey throughout his career and held him to just five games in 2016 before being placed on injured reserve.

The Dolphins signed Pouncey to a five-year $52.15MM extension back in 2015 but he was one of the team’s numerous cuts as part of an effort to reduce their cap number. Some of those other releases included defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, linebacker Lawrence Timmons and tight end Julius Thomas. The Dolphins cleared $9MM in cap space, with $2MM in dead cap, by releasing Pouncey.

[RELATED: Chargers Depth Chart]

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AFC East Notes: Pouncey, Jets, Draft

The Dolphins are overhauling their roster this offseason, looking to improve the culture of the club. A move that wasn’t motivated by the locker room, however, was the release of veteran center Mike Pouncey, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets.

Rapoport notes the All-Pro center received rave reviews for his leadership skills and toughness, but was simply cut because the Dolphins invested more money in the signing of Josh Sitton and the trade for Daniel Kilgore. Pouncey, who had three years left on his current deal, asked and was granted his release earlier this week after declining to take a pay cut. The Dolphins saved $7MM against the cap with the move.

Despite playing in all 16 games, Pouncey struggled through a hip injury in 2017. Pro Football Focus noted his down year, grading Pouncey as just the No. 27 center in the NFL. It’s possible Pouncey will require hip replacement surgery down the road, while at least one doctor has reportedly recommended that Pouncey retire, but he’s rejected that advice tho this point.

Since the trade deadline in 2017, the Dolphins have now parted ways with top producers like Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and Jay Ajayi, while also releasing veterans Lawrence Timmons and Julius Thomas.

Here’s more from around the AFC East:

  • Sticking with Pouncey, it was reported earlier in the week that he would take his first visit to meet with the Chargers on Sunday. That meeting is expected to be an extended one that will last through Monday and include a physical, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweets. The Buccaneers and Colts have also shown interest in the center, but Tampa Bay could be more content now after signing Ryan Jensen to the richest deal for a center in NFL history.
  • After acquiring the No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft from the Colts, the Jets have not ruled out moving up even further, ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes. Cimini thinks that if they have one or two quarterbacks markedly ahead of the rest of the pack, New York could swing a deal for the Giants’ No. 2 pick or Cleveland’s No. 1. He does not that it is unlikely and would probably be “too rich for the Jets’ blood.”
  • Cimini also thinks the Jets prefer Josh Allen, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen to Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. He notes general manager Mike Maccagnan typically prefers prototypical signal-callers, rather than the undersized Mayfield. “My hunch is that Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles wouldn’t be fans of the Mayfield sideshow.” 



Colts Interested In Mike Pouncey

The Colts are among the clubs with interest in free agent center Mike Pouncey, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).

Pouncey hasn’t been wanting for interest since earning his release from the Dolphins earlier this week. In addition to the Colts, both the Buccaneers and Chargers are reportedly eyeing Pouncey, although Tampa Bay’s current level of intrigue is unclear given that it signed fellow interior lineman Ryan Jensen. Los Angeles, meanwhile, is reportedly meeting with Pouncey today.

If signed by the Colts, Pouncey would likely be moved to guard given the presence of former first-round pick Ryan Kelly at center. That shouldn’t be a problem for the 28-year-old Pouncey, who has earned Pro Bowl berths at both guard and center in the past.

After playing in only five games in 2016, Pouncey’s play was limited by a hip injury last season. Pro Football Focus noted his lackluster performance, grading Pouncey as just the No. 27 center in the NFL. It’s possible Pouncey will require hip replacement surgery down the road, while at least one doctor has reportedly recommended that Pouncey retire, but he’s rejected that advice tho this point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.