Nate Ebner

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Eagles, Williams

While the Cowboys have imported two of the 2019 Panthers’ three defensive line starters — in Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe — they are not looking to move on from Tyrone Crawford. The Cowboys have asked Crawford to yo-yo between defensive end and tackle in his career, and with the two high-profile veterans coming to Dallas, it is reasonable to wonder about their longtime lineman’s role. But as of now, it should be expected Crawford will be Dallas’ starting D-end opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News notes. Despite Crawford only playing in four games last season, the Cowboys are also not expected to ask the 30-year-old lineman to take a pay cut from the $8MM salary he is due in 2020, Moore adds. Crawford, whose contract is up after 2020, would be taking the place of Robert Quinn opposite Lawrence. Quinn signed a mega-deal with the Bears.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • The Eagles entered the DeAndre Hopkins sweepstakes, but the Cardinals’ offer of David Johnson and a second-round pick surprisingly won out. Howie Roseman said Thursday the deal the Texans offered him was different than what the Cardinals ended up agreeing to, per Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter). It is not known what the Eagles offered, but this marks the most recent instance of them entering the pursuit of a high-profile AFC South player and not winning out. Roseman bowed out of the Jalen Ramsey sweepstakes last year. The lofty Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson cap numbers would have made a Hopkins extension interesting for Philly to navigate.
  • Despite the Cowboys signing both McCoy and Poe to help on their interior defensive line, they are not likely to look outside the organization to help on their interior O-line. Travis Frederick‘s successor will probably be an in-house move, Jon Machota of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Considering the Cowboys drafted Connor McGovern in the 2019 third round and re-signed Joe Looney — their 2018 replacement for Frederick — it should not surprise they will look internally at center. The Cowboys placed a second-round grade on McGovern last year, and even though he missed all of last season, the Penn State product should have a good shot at succeeding Frederick.
  • Although nearly half the league used a franchise or a transition tag this year, the GiantsLeonard Williams tag may have been the most interesting decision. New York’s Williams tag will cost at least $16.1MM (the defensive tackle price) and could run as much as $17.8MM (for defensive ends), but Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes the Giants are not likely to sign the former Jets first-rounder to a deal that averages $16MM per year. If that is the case, Williams should be expected to play 2020 on the tag.
  • The Cowboys gave Kai Forbath a one-year, $1.18MM deal, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter). The veteran kicker, who succeeded Brett Maher last year, will receive a $137K signing bonus.
  • The Giants‘ deal for ex-Patriots special-teamer Nate Ebner is a one-year, $2MM pact, per ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Ebner will receive a $950K roster bonus and a $1.05MM base salary.

Giants To Sign Nate Ebner

The Giants have agreed to sign special teams ace Nate Ebner, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Ebner is just the latest free agent to depart from the Patriots and he’ll find a familiar face in head coach Joe Judge when he arrives in New Jersey.

Ebner, who has a background in rugby, has been with the Pats since 2012. He voiced a desire to stay but, ultimately, the two sides weren’t able to come to terms on a new deal.

“That would be the best thing, I think, when you consider my entire career has been here,” Ebner said recently when asked about the possibility of re-signing. “I’ve got some true friendships here. … But right now it’s out of my hands, so we’ll see what happens.”

The former sixth-rounder has won three Super Bowl rings across eight years in New England.

Extra Points: Cam, Robinson, Slay, Olsen

We’ve got more details on Greg Robinson‘s recent arrest. NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero passes along (via Twitter) that the offensive lineman was busted with approximately 157 pounds of marijuana.

Robinson was arrested alongside former NFL wideout Quan Bray, who served as a return man for the Colts between 2015 and 2017. If the duo is convicted of possession with intent to distribute, they could each face up to 20 years in federal prison. The two were traveling with a third passenger, who was not arrested (although Robinson reportedly tried to bribe the passenger to take the fall).

The soon-to-be-free agent re-signed with the Browns on a one-year, $7MM deal before the 2019 season. Robinson struggled throughout the campaign, and he temporarily lost his starting gig. We learned earlier today that Cleveland won’t be pursuing another contract with the former second-overall pick.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Teams will be allowed to do their research on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton before committing to a trade. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that a team can give a physical to a potential trade acquisition (with the permission of the incumbent team). Considering the former MVP has suffered a long list of injuries throughout his career, this will be an important hurdle to overcome during negotiations (especially, as Florio notes, if Newton is looking for a brand-new contract).
  • A league executive believes it’d take a second- or third-rounder to pry cornerback Darius Slay from the Lions (via Ryan O’Halloran of The Denver Post on Twitter). Of course, that same executive believes the three-time Pro Bowler will also command a contract that’s worth at least $15MM per season. We recently heard that teams have inquired on Slay, and the cornerback may be looking for a fresh start.
  • Whenever Greg Olsen retires, it sounds like he won’t struggle to find a new job. The veteran tight end had discussions with multiple networks regarding a “high-profile” television gig, reports Joe Person of The Athletic (via Twitter). Ultimately, the 13-year veteran decided to sign a one-year, $7MM deal with the Seahawks.
  • Nate Ebner has spent his entire career with the Patriots, and the special teams ace (and impending free agent) would like to stick with New England. “That would be the best thing, I think, when you consider my entire career has been here,” Ebner told reporters (via NESN’s Zack Cox on Twitter). “I’ve got some true friendships here. … But right now it’s out of my hands, so we’ll see what happens.” The former sixth-rounder has won three Super Bowls during his eight years in New England, and he also earned a second team All-Pro nod in 2016.

Patriots Notes: Thomas, Michel, Gronk, Wynn

Demaryius Thomas is not a lock to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster and may well begin the season on the reserve/PUP list. The Patriots started that process Sunday by placing the Pro Bowl wide receiver on their active/PUP list, which applies to players not healthy enough to begin participating in training camp. The Pats used the same designation for Sony Michel, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Michel will certainly be part of the 2019 Patriots and is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Thomas tore an Achilles in December, joining longtime receiver teammate Emmanuel Sanders in that regard. The latter, however, is further along in his recovery, having not started Broncos camp on the PUP list.

Here is the latest out of New England:

  • Patriots third-round pick Yodny Cajuste underwent quadriceps surgery before the draft and landed on the defending Super Bowl champions’ reserve/NFI list, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. As is the case with the active/PUP list, players can come off this list at any point during camp. Cajuste figures to mix in as a swing option for the Patriots as a rookie.
  • If Rob Gronkowski does follow through on a comeback, might the Patriots be wise to assure him blocking responsibilities will be limited? While the future Hall of Famer was a plus blocker for his position, Jim McBride of the Boston Globe suggests the Pats use Gronk as a hybrid-type player that does not have the same kind of in-line role he previously held. The 30-year-old icon has slimmed down this offseason, one that has reportedly not featured much in the way of strength work.
  • Deatrich Wise and Nate Ebner will join Thomas and Michel on the Pats’ active/PUP list, Reiss tweets. A third-year defensive end, Wise has not missed a game in two seasons.
  • Isaiah Wynn, however, will not appear on the Pats’ active/PUP list, Reiss adds (via Twitter). The 2018 first-round pick missed all of his rookie season due to a torn Achilles’ tendon. Suffering the injury before last season began, Wynn is expected to suit up when the Patriots convene for their 2019 camp and line up as New England’s starting left tackle.
  • The Pats do not appear to have an open spot at quarterback, with Reiss noting Brian Hoyer will stick as Tom Brady‘s top backup and rookie Jarrett Stidham is likely assured of a roster spot as the team’s latest developmental QB project. This puts 2018 seventh-round pick Danny Etling on the verge of again falling short of a spot on the team’s active roster. But he may have an outside shot as a Taysom Hill-like role, per Reiss. While the Purdue and LSU alum never rushed for more than 200 yards in a season in college, Reiss points to his 86-yard touchdown run during 2018 preseason play as a sign this outside-the-box notion could work. The Patriots probably aren’t too eager to take Brady off the field, however.

Contract Details: CBs, McDougald, Ellis

Let’s take a look at the details from the latest contracts signed in the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

Patriots Re-Sign Nate Ebner

The Patriots have re-signed a key special teamer. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that New England has signed safety Nate Ebner to a two-year deal.

The 29-year-old has spent his entire six-year career in New England. After compiling a career-high 19 tackles in 2016, Ebner was limited to only nine games and eight tackles last season. The former sixth-round pick struggled through a shoulder injury early in the season, and he landed on the injured reserve in November after tearing his ACL.

Ebner has also had a successful rugby career. At 17, the Ohio native became the youngest player to join the United States national rugby team, and he proceeded to play in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Ebner didn’t play football throughout high school, and he joined Ohio State as a walk-on during his junior year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pats DB/ST Nate Ebner Placed On IR

Patriots special teamer Nate Ebner suffered a knee injury on a fake punt in Week 12 and has officially been placed on IR, according to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Nate Ebner (Vertical)

Ebner, 28, is in the midst of his sixth season in New England, but he’s never played a large role on the defensive side of the ball. Although he’s appeared in 82 career games, Ebner has never made a start, as most of his action has come on special teams. In nine games this season, Ebner hadn’t played a single defensive snap, but had seen time on 60% of the Patriots’ special teams plays.

Scheduled to become a free agent at season’s end, Ebner ranked as one of the NFL’s best special teamers in 2016, per Pro Football Focus. As a whole, New England is typically excellent on special teams: they’ve ranked as a top-five unit by DVOA in six of the past seven seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots To Activate Nate Ebner

The Patriots have finally made a roster move (their first since training camp began), as the club announced that they’ve waived offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson, who was signed on July 24. New England needed to clear a roster spot to activate safety Nate Ebner, who had been participating in the Olympics, as head coach Bill Belichick confirmed to reporters, including Doug Kyed of NESN.com.Nate Ebner (Vertical)

[RELATED: Offseason In Review — New England Patriots]

Ebner, 27, re-signed with the Patriots on a two-year, $2.4MM deal that contains $500K guaranteed and a $250K reporting bonus (per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com), and New England presumably agreed to the contract with the knowledge that Ebner would try out for the U.S. rugby team. Ebner has never started a game during his four-year NFL career, but he’s appeared in 57 contests as an extremely valuable special teams piece. In 2016, for example, Ebner played on more than three-quarters of the Patriots’ special teams snaps.

New England had been granted a roster exemption while Ebner was away, and Belichick today indicated that Ebner will have some work to do in order to prepare for the season. “Football,” said Belichick, when asked what Ebner would need to adjust to, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). “Not training, football. He hasn’t played football. You can go out there and run around a track all you want, but you put 21 other guys out there and it’s a whole different ball game.” 

Kerbyson, meanwhile, lasted on the Patriots’ roster for about three weeks. The former Tennessee Volunteer went undrafted earlier this year, but started all 13 games at left tackle during his senior season, during which he was named second-team All SEC.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Geno, Fitz, Harris, Foster, Pats

The Jets/Ryan Fitzpatrick saga could last well into training camp, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links), who adds that New York’s staff may need to see how Geno Smith performs in preseason contests before deciding if the club can cope without Fitzpatrick. Given that the Jets cleared some cap space by lowering Muhammad Wilkerson‘s 2016 charge (through an extension), some observers believed that Gang Green could now afford to offer Fitzpatrick the deal he’s sought, but it doesn’t sound like an agreement is close.

Meanwhile, while Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com opines that Jets management needs to set a deadline for talks with Fitzpatrick, wide receiver Brandon Marshall says he’s lost communication with the veteran quarterback. “To be honest, me and Fitz talk everyday, all the time, but I texted him the last two weeks three times and there’s no response,” said Marshall, per Ryan Mayer of CBS New York. “The only thing that he can do to make this right is to say he was on vacation, I was out of the country. It’s not like him. It’s scaring me right now.”

Let’s take a look at more from New York and the rest of the AFC East:

  • Although David Harris doesn’t have any guarantees left on his contract in 2017, the Jets figure to hang onto the veteran linebacker through the end of his deal, argues Brian Costello of the New York Post. Harris’ three-year deal, which he signed prior to 2015, contained $15MM guaranteed, but all of that total was made up of base salaries. As such, the club could release him after the upcoming season without any dead money accelerating onto their cap. But as Costello notes, Harris is viewed as a locker room leader, so as long as his play doesn’t fall off completely, it stands to figure that he’ll remain on the roster.
  • “I still feel like I’m a Pro Bowl player and I intend to show that,” said running back Arian Foster after agreeing to terms with the Dolphins earlier today, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Foster inked a one-year, $1.5MM deal that can max out at $3.5MM, and his presence in South Beach further complicates a running back unit that already boasted Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams, and rookie Kenyan Drake. Foster’s pact only contains $400K guaranteed, so if he can’t stay healthy during the preseason, Miami can cut ties without too much of a fiscal penalty.
  • Patriots safety Nate Ebner has been selected for the United States rugby team, agent Sean Stellato tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Head coach Bill Belichick has indicated that he supports Ebner’s Olympic bid, provided that he reports to the New England in shape and ready to go for the upcoming season. This offseason, the Patriots re-signed the special teams standout to a two-year, $2.4MM deal, presumably with the knowledge that he would go out for the U.S. rugby team. Ebner won’t Olympian with NFL experience, as former Lions running back Jahvid Best will be member of Saint Lucia’s track team.
  • Although the Bills used a fourth-round pick on him, rookie quarterback Cardale Jones won’t have much of an impact during the 2016 campaign, writes Joe Buscaglia of WKBW. Jones didn’t look NFL-ready during minicamps, so any hopes of him usurping backup EJ Manuel are no more, and given that Buffalo doesn’t need to keep three quarterbacks active on gameday, Jones figures to spend much of rookie year holding a clipboard.

AFC Contract Details: Okung, Penn, Pacman

Here are several of the latest contract details on deals which were agreed upon or signed within the last week. All links are courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle unless otherwise indicated.

AFC West:

  • Russell Okung, T (Broncos): Five years, $53MM. No guaranteed money. Option after year one. $2MM base salary, $1MM workout bonus, and $2MM Week 1 roster bonus for 2016. Up to $3MM in incentives available in 2016 ($1.5MM for 80% of snaps, $3MM for 90% of snaps). Option must be exercised between fifth day after Super Bowl and first day of 2017 league year. If option is exercised, $2MM salary for 2017 and $9.5MM salary for 2018 become fully guaranteed, and an $8MM roster bonus is paid out (links via Pro Football Talk, ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Tom Pelissero of USA Today, and Wilson)
  • Donald Penn, T (Raiders): Two years, $11.9MM, $5.5MM guaranteed. $2MM roster bonus due 20th day of 2016 league year. $300K in annual weigh bonuses (six weigh-ins worth $50K each). Up to $750K in annual playing-time, Pro Bowl, and playoff incentives (Twitter links).
  • Andre Holmes, WR (Raiders): One year, $2MM. $750K guaranteed. $500K signing bonus. $250K of $1.25MM base salary guaranteed. $250K workout bonus. Up to $1MM in catch, yardage incentives (Twitter links).

AFC North:

  • Adam Jones, CB (Bengals): Three years, $22MM. $6MM guaranteed. $2MM signing bonus. $4MM roster bonus due March 18. $500K in annual per-game active roster bonuses. $500K playing-time escalator for 2017. $750K playing-time escalator for 2018. $200K punt return average incentive for 2018. 2018 option to be exercised by last day of 2017 league year. (Twitter links).
  • Demario Davis, LB (Browns): Two years, $8MM. $4.1MM guaranteed. $2MM signing bonus. Annual $100K workout bonus (Twitter link).
  • Ryan Harris, T (Steelers): Two years, $3.9MM. $675K signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Pat Sims, DT (Bengals): Two years, $2.3MM. $250K guaranteed roster bonus due March 18. $200K in annual playing-time incentives. $200K playing-time escalator for 2017 (Twitter links via Wilson and Pelissero).

AFC East:

  • Andre Branch, DE (Dolphins): One year, $2.75MM. $2.5MM guaranteed base salary. $250K in per-game active roster bonuses. Up to $250K in incentives (Twitter link).
  • Nate Ebner, S (Patriots): Two years, $2.4MM. $500K guaranteed. $125K in annual per-game roster bonuses. $250K first-day camp reporting bonus. Up to $500K in playing-time, Pro Bowl incentives (Twitter links via Wilson and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com).
  • Frank Kearse, DT (Patriots): One year, minimum salary benefit. $30K signing bonus. $30K first-day camp reporting bonus. $20K in per-game active roster bonuses (Twitter link).
  • Robert Blanton, S (Bills): One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K signing bonus (Twitter link via Pelissero).

AFC South:

  • Antwon Blake, CB (Titans): One year, $1.5MM. $200K signing bonus. Up to $750K in playing-time incentives (Twitter link).