Miles Killebrew

Contract Details: Brees, Mariota, Apple

Let’s take a closer look at the details of a few recently-signed free agent contracts:

AFC

  • Marcus Mariota, QB (Raiders): Two years, $17.6MM $7.5MM guaranteed. $2.4MM in incentives available in 2020 (60% snaps). $1.5MM in playtime and win incentives. $10MM in similar incentives available in 2021. $2MM in playoff/Super Bowl wins each year. $12MM 2021 salary escalator (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of NFL.com).
  • Eli Apple, QB (Raiders): One year, $6MM. Fully guaranteed. $500K available via incentives (Twitter link via Garafolo.
  • Pierre Desir, CB (Jets): One year, ~$3.75MM. Max value of $5.5MM via incentives (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News).
  • Chad Henne, QB (Chiefs): Two years, $3.25MM. $2MM guaranteed. Max value of $7.25MM (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com).
  • Nelson Agholor, WR (Raiders): One year, veteran salary benefit. $887K guaranteed. $137K signing bonus (Twitter link via Pelissero).

NFC

  • Drew Brees, QB (Saints): Four years, $100MM. $25MM guaranteed. Void years used in 2022-23. Brees receives no-trade clause and no franchise/transition tag can be used after 2021 (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Jalen Mills, DB (Eagles): One, $4MM. Up to $1MM available via incentives (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio).
  • Thomas Davis, LB (Redskins): One year, $3.5MM. $250K available via incentives (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Shon Coleman, T (49ers): One year, $2.2MM. $1.37MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Miles Killebrew, S (Lions): One year, $2MM. $1.137MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Jayron Kearse, S (Lions): One year, $2MM. Up to $1.25MM available via incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Pharoh Cooper, WR (Panthers): One year, $1.21MM. $300K signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/20/20

Today’s running list of minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

  • Released: P Ryan Allen (this is only a procedural move and Allen is expected to be re-signed shortly, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets.)

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

Chicago Bears

Houston Texans

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

North Notes: Vikings, Conner, JuJu, Lions

The 2017 draft class will become extension-eligible in January, and Dalvin Cook‘s contract figures to be one the key talking points once the calendar flips to the 2020 offseason. The Vikings are one of the few teams to have paid a running back top-market money, via Adrian Peterson‘s $14.4MM-AAV pact from 2011. With Cook’s contract not containing a fifth-year option like Christian McCaffrey‘s does, the Vikings will likely have to address his deal sooner than the Panthers will need to negotiate with their All-Pro candidate. Ezekiel Elliott‘s $15MM-per-year deal represents the new running back benchmark. Although Cook has been injury-prone, he will surely seek a contract in the Elliott-Todd GurleyLe’Veon BellDavid Johnson tax bracket (north of $13MM annually).

Running backs are valuable,” Cook said, via ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin. “For guys to get rewarded for how physical, how much they get their bodies ready each and every week to go take that pounding, guys [are] getting rewarded for that. The running back value kind of went down, but I think we’re just as valuable as any position.”

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Adam Thielen will not play Sunday night. The Vikings ruled out their highest-paid wide receiver for Week 10’s Cowboys contest. Thielen has dealt with this hamstring injury since Week 7, missing Minnesota’s game against the Redskins and exiting last week’s Chiefs game after seven snaps.
  • One of Cook’s 2017 draft classmates, James Conner, will also need at least another week to recover from injury. The Steelers ruled out Conner for Week 10. They also added JuJu Smith-Schuster to this week’s injury report Friday. Pittsburgh’s top wideout is questionable to face the Rams with a toe injury.
  • Lions safety Miles Killebrew suffered a concussion during Thursday’s practice, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes. The Lions moved Killebrew to linebacker last year, but the trade of Quandre Diggs and Tracy Walker‘s knee injury prompted the team to shift Killebrew back to safety recently. UFA addition Tavon Wilson, third-round rookie Will Harris and rookie UDFA C.J. Moore are the Lions’ only healthy safeties. Killebrew and Walker are out for Sunday’s Bears tilt
  • The Lions’ two-year extension for Christian Jones features a short-term sacrifice for a 2020 payment. The deal reduces the linebacker’s 2019 salary from $2.45MM to the veteran minimum, which will be worth approximately $426K for the season’s remainder. In exchange, Jones will receive a $1.97MM signing bonus, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com tweets. The through-2021 deal averages $2.92MM. Detroit tacked on a voidable 2022 year, in order to spread the bonus across three seasons instead of two.

Release Candidate: Lions S Miles Killebrew

The February release (and subsequent retirement) of Glover Quin, in theory, should have put safety Miles Killebrew in line for an elevated role in 2019. But, instead of moving from the bench to the starting lineup, ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein believes that he could be on the roster bubble. 

“Killa” has shown bursts of promise while providing valuable special teams help, but he has yet to make a major mark on defense. Even without Quin, the Lions have other safety options from which to choose, including Quandre Diggs, Tavon Wilson, third-round rookie Will Harris, and rising sophomore Tracy Walker.

Killebrew’s practice performance in the coming weeks may dictate his NFL future. There are a number of potential outcomes, ranging from a starting gig at free safety alongside Diggs to a release that could expose him to the waiver wire just prior to the start of the season. There’s also the in-between that could sting the player even more than getting cut – Killebrew could be relegated to a special teams/reserve role yet again as he enters the final year of his paltry rookie contract.

If Killebrew can’t break through this summer, his best outcome might be a release and an opportunity to flex his hard-hitting style elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Lions, Vikings, Bucs, Kelley

With more teams debuting their preseasons Friday night, here’s the latest out of the NFC, beginning with one of the teams that indeed begins its 2018 run tonight.

  • A fourth-round pick two years ago, Miles Killebrew may be moving to a different position in order to increase his chances of making the Lions‘ 53-man roster. The third-year safety’s been working exclusively as a linebacker in practice as of late, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Killebrew started three games at safety for the Lions last season, but Birkett adds that the Southern Utah product was working as the fifth safety during camp in a unit that’s now including former full-time cornerback Quandre Diggs. Rookie Tracy Walker was also running ahead of Killebrew.
  • Nick Easton‘s season-ending injury now has the Vikings down three starters, with Pat Elflein still on the PUP list and Mike Remmers also sidelined. Tom Compton is the favorite to fill in for Easton at left guard, and ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin notes the Vikings were eyeing the former Redskins and Bears blocker in the past prior to signing him this offseason. Compton, though, has only made 16 starts in six seasons. The Vikings are likely to keep Compton at guard rather than have him also work at tackle, Mike Zimmer said. Second-year man Danny Isidora looks to the the top insurance option at the other guard spot in case Remmers, down with an ankle injury presently, doesn’t return soon, per Cronin. A fourth-year UDFA out of Portland State, Cornelius Edison is currently working as Minnesota’s first-team center in Elflein’s absence.
  • The Buccaneers will be without Vernon Hargreaves for a bit, potentially the rest of the preseason, with a groin injury. Dirk Koetter, however, doesn’t expect the former first-round pick to miss any regular-season time because of this malady (Twitter link, via the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud).
  • The 49ers will be dealing with similar timelines involving key personnel. Likely tight end starter George Kittle and No. 2 running back Matt Breida suffered separated shoulders in San Francisco’s preseason opener Thursday night, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. Both will miss the remainder of the preseason calendar. Kyle Shanahan said the earliest either will return is Week 1.
  • Derrius Guice‘s ACL tear deprives the Redskins of a potential impact player being part of their 2018 offense, and they will likely turn to former starter Rob Kelley in his place, Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington writes. He expects Samaje Perine, who was in danger of not making the roster prior to Guice’s injury, to work in off the bench on early downs. Tandler adds the Redskins could go after a veteran back, and while many are available, it’s not certain the team will move in that direction just yet. Kelley rushed for 704 yards (4.2 per carry) in 2016, a season that featured him start down the stretch, but gained just 194 last year (3.1 per tote) in seven games as Washington’s starter.

North Notes: Packers, Q. Diggs, Conner

We heard last month that the Packers would be going “back to Page 1” of their playbook, but as Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal writes, Green Bay is not going to be making any wholesale changes to its offense. In light of all of the new voices on the offensive side of the ball this year — Joe Philbin is back as OC, Frank Cignetti Jr. is in as quarterbacks coach, and there are several other staff changes besides — it made sense for all involved to thoroughly review the team’s play design and philosophy. But as Philbin said, “It’s been a process of refining, enhancing, tweaking, as opposed to, ‘Yeah we scrubbed it down.’ Yes, we went page by page. (But) we’re not starting from scratch here. These players in that locker room, they’ve done some great things.” 

Philbin, of course, is primarily referring to star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers indicated that verbiage has changed — and Philbin acknowledged that such changes were made in order to streamline the playcalling — and that has created something of a learning curve. But passing game Jim Hostler said that the goal is for the offense to look the same as it always has with Rodgers under center, even if there are some refinements and enhancements here and there.

Now for more from the league’s north divisions:

  • Opposing defenses were already treating Packers WR Davante Adams as the team’s No. 1 wideout last season, so the departure of Jordy Nelson will not represent much of a change in that regard, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. But Green Bay has not (yet) signed a veteran wideout to replace Nelson, so Adams will need to take on a more active role in terms of leadership. The Packers drafted three receivers this year — one each in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds — and return 24-year-old Geronimo Allison as the presumed No. 3 WR on the depth chart, so Adams is suddenly the second-oldest player in the wide receiver room. He was not present for the start of OTAs, which caused some concern in light of his concussion history, but neither player nor team seem concerned about his availability. Head coach Mike McCarthy simply said Adams is “battling a couple things,” presumably minor injuries.
  • Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com says Quandre Diggs has a real chance to permanently supplant Tavon Wilson as the Lions‘ starting strong safety in 2018. Diggs, a former sixth-round selection, played well in that role last season, and Rothstein suggests he may even be the favorite to start at this point. Miles Killebrew, a former fourth-round choice, appears to be on the outside looking in and may need to continue to stand out on special teams to retain his roster spot.
  • James Conner, a feel-good story and 2017 third-round choice, is featuring prominently in Steelers‘ OTAs due to Le’Veon Bell‘s continued absence, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes. Conner showed flashes in his rookie campaign, which ended with a Week 15 MCL tear, but if he can cement himself as the team’s No. 2 back behind Bell this season — and he will need to improve in pass protection in order to do so — that could be the first step towards a starting job in 2019, depending on Bell’s contract situation.
  • John Ross is once again a full participant in the Bengals‘ OTAs, as Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer observes. Although Ross dropped a few passes, he also made some difficult grabs and is seeing a lot of passes come his way. Tyler Eifert, meanwhile, is a limited participant, but having both players involved at the beginning of full team work is a beautiful thing for Cincinnati fans.
  • Neil Stratton of InsideTheLeague.com (via Twitter) details a few more changes to the Browns‘ scouting department that were not covered several days ago.

North Notes: Golson, Browns, Lions

In the past few drafts, the Steelers have made a concerted effort to bolster their defensive backfield, an area that has been something of a weakness in the second half of the Ben Roethlisberger era. The team selected a cornerback on the first or second day of the last three drafts (Cam Sutton in 2017, Artie Burns in 2016, and Senquez Golson in 2015), and safety Sean Davis was selected in the second round of the 2016 draft. Pittsburgh’s secondary was improved last season, but after it was gashed by the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, the Steelers’ coaching staff plans to implement more man coverage in 2017, as Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Dulac says the team is confident that Sutton and Burns can handle those concepts, but the staff is openly pessimistic about Golson, who has not played in a preseason or regular-season game in his two years in the league due to injuries. Golson, who is at least healthy enough to practice at the moment, seems to be on the verge of losing his roster spot altogether, and he may need to prove his worth on special teams just to make the club.

Now for more from the North:

  • Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman sit squarely atop the Browns‘ wide receiver depth chart, but the No. 3 job is wide open, and there are a number of second-years players who could fill that role. However, Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com says the team hopes Ricardo Louis, last year’s fourth-round selection, can be the guy. Though Louis appeared in all 16 games for the club last season, he caught just 18 passes for 205 yards, but given the big-play potential he flashed at Auburn, Cleveland will give him every opportunity to earn a key role this summer.
  • Speaking of Coleman, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says he will be eased into the grind of training camp, and he may not be a full-go from the first day of camp. The same is true of 2017 No. 1 overall selection Myles Garrett, who suffered a left lateral foot sprain in minicamp.
  • Lions safety Miles Killebrew, a fourth-round selection in 2016, was a fixture in the team’s dime package last season, but as Kyle Meinke of MLive.com writes, Killebrew could be in for a much bigger role in 2017. The Southern Utah product is currently listed as the third safety on the depth chart behind Glover Quin and Tavon Wilson, but Meinke believes Killebrew could push Wilson for the starting strong safety job with a solid training camp. As we learned yesterday, the Lions and Quin are discussing a new contract.
  • Jake Rudock lost the Lions‘ backup quarterback competition to Dan Orlovsky last season because of Orlovsky’s experience and knowledge of the team’s offense, but now Rudock himself is the player with the experience advantage. As Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com writes, Rudock’s grasp of OC Jim Bob Cooter’s scheme is miles ahead of rookie Brad Kaaya‘s, thereby making Rudock almost a lock for the backup job.

Lions Sign Taylor Decker, Eight Draftees, 12 UDFAs

The Lions have officially locked up nearly all of their draft class, along with a dozen undrafted free agents, the team announced today in a pair of press releases. The most notable name in the group is Ohio State offensive tackle Taylor Decker, who was Detroit’s first-round pick, but the team has also signed eight other draftees to go along with its 12 new UDFAs.

Of Detroit’s 10 draft picks, only second-round defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson remains unsigned for now. Here’s the complete list of draft picks secured by the Lions:

And here are the 12 undrafted free agents who signed contracts with the Lions:

Draft Rumors: Conklin, Stanley, Chargers, Elliott

There’s growing buzz around Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, who tweets that Conklin is getting top-10 consideration. Meanwhile, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link) suggests that there are some coaches around the NFL that prefer Conklin to Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley, who is generally considered the draft’s second-best tackle after Laremy Tunsil.

Still, while Tunsil is viewed as the top tackle – and perhaps even the top player – by many teams around the NFL, there’s not a complete consensus on that. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock (Twitter link) suggests there has been some “momentum” for Stanley to go in the top 10, perhaps even before Tunsil. While that seems unlikely, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (via Twitter) that teams aren’t all set yet.

Here are a few more draft rumors and updates from across the league:

  • Speaking today to reporters, including Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter links), Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said that trade talks involving the No. 3 pick have “really slowed down” since Wednesday. The team will continue to explore trade opportunities and won’t make a final decision on the pick until next Thursday, but trade discussions have “quieted considerably.”
  • Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott could come off the board as high as No. 4 next Thursday, and likely won’t last beyond pick No. 13, says Jason Cole (video link). Cole suggests that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is very fond of Elliott, but as we saw a couple years ago when Dallas took Zack Martin over Johnny Manziel, Jones is willing to defer to other decision-makers in the team’s front office during the draft.
  • Bills officials are traveling to Alabama today to meet with defensive tackle Jarran Reed, multiple sources tell John Wawrow of The Associated Press. Reed had previously been scheduled to visit Buffalo, but had to cancel due to the birth of his child, says Wawrow. Since teams can no longer host players on pre-draft visits, the Bills will travel to Reed, rather than vice versa.
  • During an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link), Southern Utah safety Miles Killebrew said that he paid a visit to the Seahawks.

Draft Rumors: Goff, Wentz, Cardale, Dixon

The Rams have completed their predraft visits with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). After trading up the No. 1 overall pick, there’s no doubt Los Angeles will select a quarterback, but there’s still a little mystery as to which one. Goff seems to be the favorite, but with the Rams meeting with both he and Wentz this week, we aren’t likely to know definitely unless the club announces their pick ahead of next Thursday:

Here’s the latest on the draft (one week away!):

  • Goff and Wentz are two of several quarterbacks expected to be taken in the first round, but Ohio State’s Cardale Jones is one of the more interesting options that figures to be available on Day 2 or 3. As Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes, Jones has attracted the attention of both the Cardinals and the Chargers — each club will make the trek to Columbus to meet with the signal-caller. Arizona and its downfield passing attack, particularly, would mesh well with Jones’ skill-set.
  • Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon has had a pre-draft visit with the 49ers, a source tells Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2012, Dixon’s 27 rushing touchdowns led the nation and set an NCAA record for freshmen. The powerful back is expected to be a mid-round pick at the end of this month.
  • Southern Utah safety Miles Killebrew had a private workout with Buccaneers secondary coach Brett Maxie, according to Jenna Laine (Twitter link). Killebrew has had a busy schedule, as he’s had workouts with the Patriots, Cardinals, Titans, Panthers, and Browns, per Laine (Twitter link).
  • Auburn wide receiver Ricardo Louis visited the Texans this week, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Louis is considered a pass-catcher, but per Wilson, he has done defensive back drills for some clubs.