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NFLPA Responds To NFL’s Deshaun Watson Appeal

The NFLPA had two business days to file a brief responding to the NFL’s Deshaun Watson appeal. The union has, as expected, followed through on filing a reply brief (Twitter link).

This matter now goes to appellate appointee Peter Harvey, whom Roger Goodell designated to hear the league’s appeal. Harvey helped the NFL craft its personal conduct policy, and the fact Goodell has selected him to hear its appeal of Watson’s six-game suspension suggests the league is confident more games will be tacked onto the Browns quarterback’s ban.

That taking place puts the NFLPA in a spot in which a court battle seems likely. Since the union did not appeal Sue Robinson’s six-game ban, Watson will miss this season’s first six games. However, a court fight could have him on the field immediately after. A preliminary injunction, as courts deal with this matter, would put Watson in position to play and — assuming the league’s CBA holds up in court — serve two separate suspensions. Or, the union’s legal effort fails ahead of that Week 7 window and Watson serves a longer suspension that covers most or all of the 2022 season. Tom Brady and Ezekiel Elliott played under injunctions, but each served the Goodell-determined suspensions at later dates.

The NFL is again seeking a full-season suspension, its goal for the past several weeks. Robinson ruling Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy by committing sexual assault during massage therapy sessions gives Harvey the power to increase his suspension. Absent a full-season suspension, the league wants to substantially increase Watson’s fine. The Browns structuring of Watson’s contract, giving the former Texans Pro Bowler a league-minimum salary to minimize his financial punishment in the event of a suspension, has not sat well with the NFL.

Settlement talks between the NFL and NFLPA have occurred periodically, and more clarity has emerged on what each side was willing to accept. The NFLPA spent weeks arguing Watson should not be suspended at all, but Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports the union was willing to accept an eight-game ban. The shortest absence the NFL was willing to allow was 12 games. If the 12-game suspension was to be put in place via a settlement, Graziano adds the NFL also wanted Watson fined in the $8MM range.

Watson’s camp was not willing to go along with the NFL’s push for an indefinite suspension, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com, who describes that component as a lead driver in breaking off the settlement talks (video link). As it stands now, Watson is set to lose less than $500K from his six-game ban. A full-season absence would only cost him his $1MM base salary.

This process, which involved 25 civil lawsuits filed against the recently traded quarterback, will be designed to conclude expeditiously, ESPN.com’s Jeff Darlington relays (on Twitter). No additional hearings are forthcoming, only Harvey’s decision. After that, it could spill over into court. The Browns are set to give their starting job to Jacoby Brissett during Watson’s absence, with Josh Dobbs and Josh Rosen serving as reserve options.

Steelers, Diontae Johnson Agree To Deal

Given the state of contract talks between the two sides, many felt that 2022 would be Diontae Johnson‘s final season in Pittsburgh. Instead, he will be on the books beyond that, as he has agreed to terms on a two-year, $36.71MM extension (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo). 

Johnson had one year remaining on his rookie contract, so this deal will keep him in place through 2024. The relatively short term will give him an opportunity to hit the open market while still in his 20s. The extension will bring an end to the former third-rounder’s ‘hold-in’ during training camp, which has helped bring about new deals for a number of wideouts from the decorated WR class of 2019.

Garafolo adds that the contract includes $27MM in guaranteed money, and InsidetheBirds.com’s Adam Caplan tweets it includes a $17.5MM signing bonus. The deal will pay the 26-year-old $19MM in its first year (Twitter link). Overall, the annual average of $18.355MM ranks significantly lower than that of new deals signed by the likes of A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Deebo Samuel and Terry McLaurin this offseason. It was clear throughout this process that the Steelers wouldn’t match that level of compensation, with the $20MM-per-year mark being labeled a bar the team was unwilling to clear.

Pittsburgh remained able to come in short of that plateau, but still land the Pro Bowler at a reasonable rate. Having improved in each of his three seasons to date, Johnson eclipsed 1,000 yards last season as the team’s top pass catcher. Assuming he maintains that level of production going forward, a rate fractionally above that of Christian Kirk could prove to be significant value at a position which has seen a skyrocketing market in recent months.

Johnson’s new pact represents the second major extension taken care of by new general manager Omar Khan this offseason. The team already finalized a record-breaking deal with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, leaving them free to turn their attention to Johnson. The lack of substantive progress at any point this offseason – marked by the organization’s insistence that they would not deviate from their internal valuation of the Toledo alum – pointed to Johnson playing out this season and securing a new deal in free agency (which, in all likelihood, would have allowed him to earn notably more than the value of this extension).

Instead, he will continue to operate as the Steelers’ top wideout as they transition to the post-Ben Roethlisberger era at quarterback. Headlining a young offensive nucleus including fellow receivers Chase Claypool and George Pickens, along with running back Najee Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth, Johnson is set to take another step forward with his financial future now taken care of.

NFL Appeals Deshaun Watson Suspension

The NFL is officially appealing the recently announced Deshaun Watson suspension, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The league had until 8am CT Thursday to file an appeal.

Disciplinary officer Sue Robinson suspended the Browns quarterback for six games, a number that came in well short of what the NFL hoped. Weeks ago, cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reported the NFL would not sit by if a six- or eight-game ban came down. This long-rumored action will put the union to the test. The NFLPA said it would not appeal Robinson’s initial decision, but now that the NFL has launched its effort, the ball is in the union’s court.

No compromise is in play here. Long connected to seeking a full-season Watson suspension, the NFL will again push for that upon appeal, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. The league will push to see Watson suspended indefinitely, per The Ringer’s Lindsay Jones (on Twitter). It has not been a secret the NFL wants Watson off the field in 2022. The league argued for such a ban during the June hearing.

The NFL wants Watson fined as well, per ESPN.com’s Jeff Darlington (on Twitter). No fine was included in Monday’s suspension. The Browns structured Watson’s contract so he would make the league minimum in 2022, thus reducing his fine when a suspension came. As for the Browns, they had no comment on the appeal, Cabot tweets.

The NFLPA has two days to respond to this move. With Roger Goodell or a Goodell appointee overseeing the appeal — the setup the league and the union agreed to when the parties hammered out the current CBA in March 2020 — the union would not seem to have much hope of keeping this suspension at six games. A move to shift this matter to the courts surfaced during Robinson’s deliberation. While Tom Brady and Ezekiel Elliott ended up serving their suspensions despite lengthy legal sagas, it would surprise if the union stood pat if this appeal leads to an increased Watson penalty. The NFLPA likely will take NFL to court, Cabot writes.

This offseason’s defining story doubled as the first usage of the independent arbitrator for a personal conduct policy violation. While the NFL risks further damaging its relationship with the NFLPA by moving to change Robinson’s decision, this is the policy the union approved — albeit by a narrow vote — when the CBA was ratified. Barring the union earning a surprise victory in court, Goodell’s decision will stand. An injunction could open the door to Watson playing to start the season, as Brady and Elliott did while courts addressed their suspensions, but the NFL’s CBA held up in those cases.

This news will certainly affect the Browns’ prospects for a successful 2022 season. The team has faced waves of criticism for authorizing the fully guaranteed $230MM contract — a measure that convinced Watson to choose Cleveland over NFC South suitors — after 22 women had sued the Pro Bowl quarterback alleging sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. Two more women filed suit after Watson joined the Browns, who were not expecting a full-season suspension when they sent the Texans a trade package of three first-round picks and change. Monday, then, represented a positive development for the team. Wednesday’s news does not.

Although a statement from Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said Watson was remorseful, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com said during a TV appearance Watson remains adamant he did nothing wrong (Twitter link via Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith). Watson has maintained this stance throughout the offseason. Two grand juries did not indict the embattled QB, and the NFLPA argued no suspension was necessary. But Robinson’s report indicated Watson-perpetrated sexual assault and misconduct did take place.

In her report, Robinson concluded Watson committed sexual assault and described the 26-year-old’s pattern of nonviolent sexual conduct as “more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL.” The sexual assault being deemed nonviolent helped induce Robinson to settle on six games, but the language she used when describing her conclusion undoubtedly opened the door for the league to act. Watson is no longer permitted to go through with non-team-approved massages for the rest of his career. The NFL is also seeking the sixth-year veteran to undergo treatment, Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets.

The Browns have Jacoby Brissett in place to start while Watson is suspended. Jimmy Garoppolo rumors have effectively been shut down, but going from Watson to Brissett would obviously be a crushing blow for a Browns team that would seemingly be positioned to contend with the former running the show. The team, which traded four-year starter Baker Mayfield to the Panthers in early July, has Joshua Dobbs and the recently signed Josh Rosen in place behind Brissett.

Dolphins, Stephen Ross Not Punished For Tanking Allegations

While Tuesday morning’s news will significantly alter the Dolphins’ draft plans, the allegations of tanking brought forth by former head coach Brian Flores are now in the team’s rear-view mirror. The NFL cleared the organization of wrongdoing here.

The Dolphins did not intentionally lose games, nor did Stephen Ross instruct Flores to do so to improve the team’s draft slot, per the investigation (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). Flores accused Ross of offering him $100K per loss in 2019. The NFL is not disputing Flores’ claim about the $100K offer but determined Ross’ proposal for losses was not to be interpreted as serious.

Even if made in jest and not intended to be taken seriously, comments suggesting that draft position is more important than winning can be misunderstood and carry with them an unnecessary potential risk to the integrity of the game,” Roger Goodell said in a statement. “The comments made by Mr. Ross did not affect Coach Flores’ commitment to win and the Dolphins competed to win every game. Coach Flores is to be commended for not allowing any comment about the relative importance of draft position to affect his commitment to win throughout the season.”

[RELATED: Dolphins Docked First-, Third-Round Picks For Tampering]

Flores, whose tampering accusations led to punishment for Ross and the Dolphins, said he wrote a letter to Dolphins executives indicating concern about the owner’s offer. Flores had also alleged that GM Chris Grier informed him Ross was mad when the team’s wins down the stretch that season compromised its 2020 draft position.

Although Ross will be tied to the tampering charge, the investigation’s other interviews did not lend support to Flores’ account he was given a serious offer to lose games for draft positioning. Such an offer, even coming in jest, acknowledged as fact does not look great for Ross — who is having a rather eventful day — but the longtime Dolphins owner nevertheless avoided a multi-penalty morning.

I am thankful that the NFL’s investigator found my factual allegations against Stephen Ross are true,” Flores said in a statement. “At the same time, I am disappointed to learn that the investigator minimized Mr. Ross’s offers and pressure to tank games, especially when I wrote and submitted a letter at the time to Dolphins executives documenting my serious concerns regarding this subject at the time, which the investigator has in her possession. While the investigator found that the Dolphins had engaged in impermissible tampering of ‘unprecedented scope and severity,’ Mr. Ross will avoid any meaningful consequence.”

Pertaining to the tanking accusation, the NFL determined the 2019 Dolphins — who had gutted their roster to begin a rebuild that year — “tried hard to win every game, including at the end of the year when they beat Cincinnati and New England, despite worsening Miami’s position in the 2020 draft.”

The Flores-led team’s upset wins late that season dropped Miami’s top 2020 draft choice to No. 5, when Tua Tagovailoa went off the board. The Dolphins were interested in packaging all three picks for Joe Burrow, but the Bengals were uninterested in that swap.

The independent investigation cleared our organization on any issues related to tanking and all of Brian Flores other allegations,” Ross said in a statement. “As I have said all along, these allegations were false, malicious and defamatory, and this issue is now put to rest.”

The Dolphins’ roster purge led the likes of Ryan Tannehill, Laremy Tunsil, Minkah Fitzpatrick and others off the roster in 2019. Given the product the team was putting on the field to start that season, one that began with a 59-10 loss to the Ravens, Flores helming that Dolphins iteration to a 5-11 record made for a major surprise. It also prevented the Dolphins from securing the Burrow draft slot. The three-year Dolphins HC certainly did not accuse players or his staff of trying to lose games, making the upset over the Patriots moot with regards to his accusation Ross offered him bonuses for losses. But Tuesday’s report including that as evidence is nonetheless interesting.

Flores has also sued the Dolphins, along with other teams and the NFL, for racial discrimination during their hiring processes. Steve Wilks and Ray Horton have joined that class-action lawsuit. That matter remains ongoing, but the $100K-per-loss saga is now behind the Dolphins, who will deal with the consequences from the tampering penalties in the coming years.

Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross Suspended; Team Docked Draft Picks For Tampering

The tampering allegations faced by the Dolphins have led to serious consequences for the organization. Owner Stephen Ross has been suspended for the beginning of the 2022 season, and the team has been docked two draft picks (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). ESPN’s Jeff Darlington notes that the decision is final, and there is no appeals process (Twitter link).

Ross will be suspended through October 17 of this year. He is also banned from all league committees and is not allowed to attend league meetings until March 2023. In addition, he has been fined $1.5MM. The draft picks the team is forfeiting are a first-round selection in 2023, as well as a third-rounder in 2024. Dolphins vice chairman Bruce Beal, who is also a TB12 board member (per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times), has also been suspended and fined $500K.

The full findings of the league’s investigations into the team’s attempts to acquire quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Sean Payton include “tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” per commissioner Roger Goodell. The league has found that the Dolphins engaged in “impermissible communications” with Brady dating back to 2019-20, when he was with the Patriots (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter).

Miami likewise held illegal talks with Brady while he was a member of the Buccaneers, pertaining to a potential ownership stake, Schefter adds. As for Payton, the league has found that the Dolphins’ initial talks with him took place before before his decision to step away from the Saints in January, and that permission was still not granted by the Saints after that decision (Twitter links).

With regards to tampering, I strongly disagree with the conclusions and the punishment,” Ross said in a statement. “However, I will accept the outcome because the most important thing is that there be no distractions for our team as we begin an exciting and winning season. I will not allow anything to get in the way of that.”

Reports surfaced early in the offseason of repeated attempts by Ross to bring Brady (who has a well-known personal relationship with Ross and Beal) to Miami as the team’s quarterback and/or minority owner. The move was expected to represent a package deal with Payton, but fell through in the wake of Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit against, among others, the team. Much of the story was first detailed by PFT’s Mike Florio, but was later corroborated by a number of outlets; today’s new confirms what many had already suspected based on that reporting.

The punishment handed down to Ross, Beal and the organization is meant to “deter future violations and safeguard the integrity of the game,” per the league’s ruling. While it remains to be seen if it will have the intended effect in future cases of the sort, the Dolphins certainly face a steep price for their actions.

Deshaun Watson Suspended Six Games

The outcome of the Deshaun Watson hearing has indeed been finalized. The Browns QB has been suspended for the first six games of the season for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport).

The rendering from retired judge Sue. L. Robinson does not include any fines in addition to the salary Watson will  forfeit, reports Rapoport’s colleague Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). In a follow-up, he adds that the ruling requires Watson receive all future massages from club therapists – as opposed to the dozens of private ones he met with during his tenure with the Texans; his alleged sexual misconduct with dozens of those women sparked lengthy criminal and civil proceedings, along with a league investigation and June’s disciplinary hearing.

Robinson’s decision states that Watson’s “pattern of behavior was egregious,” but adds that his actions constituted “nonviolent sexual conduct,” per Pelissero (Twitter link). The particulars of the application of the policy under the new CBA have led to varied estimations on how long Watson would be banned; the Browns were recently reported to be anticipating an eight-game suspension, so today’s news falls much closer in line with that prediction than the NFL’s stated preference of an indefinite one lasting at least one season.

The NFL has three days to appeal this ruling, which would turn the matter to commissioner Roger Goodell or his appointee. Rapoport tweets that it is unclear whether or not the league will do so, but he confirms yesterday’s news that the NFLPA will not contest the terms of Watson’s suspension. That came as something a revelation, given previous reports that he and the union were prepared to sue the league in the event of a lengthier suspension.

After acquiring the 26-year-old from Houston, the Browns signed Watson to an extension which lowered his 2022 base salary to $1MM. As a result, this suspension will cost him $345K, compared to well over $11MM had his previous contract still been in play (Twitter link via Rapoport). The six-game absence will leave him sidelined for four contests against AFC opponents, and one of the team’s six divisional matchups.

Cleveland was thought to be in the market for added depth at the QB position if Watson were to be handed a lengthier suspension. Assuming his ban remains six weeks in length, though, they will in all likelihood hand the reins to Jacoby Brissett to begin the campaign, leaning on Joshua Dobbs or recent signing Josh Rosen in the event of injury.

For the immediate future at least, the league’s top offseason story has reached a vital checkpoint. More could still be coming soon, in the event of an appeal, but the Browns now have more clarity on when their franchise signal-caller will first be available to them.

49ers, WR Deebo Samuel Agree To Deal

After months of precarious conversations and rumors, the 49ers and star wide receiver Deebo Samuel have finally agreed to a new deal. Samuel has landed a three-year extension worth $71.55MM, with a potential maximum value of $73.5MM, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. 

Samuel’s annual average value of approximately $23.85MM per year ranks eighth among wide receiver contracts in the league behind Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins, Cooper Kupp, A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, and recent fellow hold-in participant D.K. Metcalf. As expected, Samuel joins the trend of wide receivers breaking the $20MM per year threshold.

Samuel’s feud with the team that drafted him stems back to the early days of the offseason. General manager John Lynch had readily admitted that the team had an extension budgeted for Samuel and defensive star Nick Bosa, but San Francisco’s initial offer was out of range enough for Samuel to request a trade. Several teams reached out in hopes of trading for the 26-year-old, with the Jets making a dramatic push around the draft, but, ultimately, no trade unfolded.

At one point, Samuel had removed all references to the team on social media, indicating that the relationship was all but deteriorated, but eventually refollowed the team on Instagram and liked a post in which Lynch claimed the issues between the two parties could be worked out. The team’s communication with the media after that seemed to insist that a deal would get done, but as training camp approached, questions on the imminence of a new contract still pressed.

Samuel’s “hold-in” can now come to an end. While he had reported to training camp earlier this week, Samuel refused to practice amid his then-ongoing contract dispute. He had reported to minicamp, as well, but didn’t participate in any on-field work then either. The “hold-in” was a new concept, a result of the CBA’s crackdown on holdouts that would fine Samuel $40,000 for each day he was absent from camp.

With contract discussions in the rearview, Samuel can return focus to continuing his meteoric NFL development. Samuel impressed as a rookie amassing 57 receptions for 802 yards and three touchdowns en route to his teams run to a Super Bowl loss against the Chiefs. Samuel also showed that his impressive athleticism could provide an extra tool as he rushed for three more touchdowns on 14 carries for 159 yards. Samuel’s sophomore season was derailed a bit by injury as a fracture in his left foot forced him to miss the first three games of the season. He would miss nine games total that year due to a mix of COVID-19 and a hamstring injury.

Finally healthy again, Samuel exploded for a breakout year last season. Samuel more than doubled his career total recording 1,405 receiving yards on 77 catches for six touchdowns. He continued his dual-threat nature by rushing 59 times for 365 yards and a team-leading eight rushing touchdowns. Some reports indicated that one of Samuel’s gripes was his overuse in the run game, but the team supposedly addressed it by adding some depth to the running backs room.

But, now, all the gripes and issues will hopefully be behind the two parties. Samuel got his payday and the 49ers aren’t forced to deal one of their most valuable offensive weapons. Between signing Bosa and Samuel to massive extensions, Lynch and the 49ers’ brass have had one heck of an offseason.

Buccaneers Fear Season-Ending Knee Injury For C Ryan Jensen

JULY 29: The Bucs indeed fear Jensen will be out for the season, Rapoport adds. Todd Bowles confirmed Friday the team’s starting center will miss a significant amount of time (video links). The new Tampa Bay HC did not say Jensen would miss the entire season, mentioning a potential multi-month timeline.

The Bucs have already discussed bringing in a veteran, per Bowles, though the fourth-year Tampa Bay staffer said these discussions have not progressed too far just yet. Hainsey, a right tackle at Notre Dame who converted to the interior as a pro, is expected to receive the first crack at replacing Jensen, per Rapoport. Nick Leverett, a former UDFA who played in two games last season, is also in the mix.

JULY 28: A cart transported Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen off the practice field Thursday, and the team is concerned about a long-term absence. The Bucs fear the recently re-signed snapper suffered a serious injury, Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com report (on Twitter).

These reports indeed usually precede bad news for teams. The Bucs just gave Jensen a second contract — a three-year, $39MM deal — to return as Tom Brady‘s center. Tests are ongoing here, but a source informed ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter this situation is “not looking good” for the veteran blocker (Twitter link). Jensen is dealing with a major injury, per Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter). His season is certainly in jeopardy.

Offensive line continuity played a big part in the Bucs’ surge to the Super Bowl LV championship, but the 2021 playoffs and this offseason have brought uncertainty to Tampa Bay’s front. This year has injected considerable O-line change, with longtime guard Ali Marpet retiring and the Bucs letting their other guard starter — Alex Cappa — defect to the Bengals in free agency. A Jensen absence would create a new issue for the Bucs, who will have the oldest primary starting quarterback in NFL history.

Jensen’s recommitment to the Bucs came just after Brady’s; the ninth-year center re-signed with the team hours after Brady’s unretirement. Jensen has established himself as one of the NFL’s top centers, having moved from sixth-round pick to using a contract-year springboard with the Ravens to a 2018 Bucs deal. On that pact, Jensen did not miss a game. The Colorado State-Pueblo alum has not missed a game since the 2016 season. Jensen, 31, made his first Pro Bowl last season.

Tampa Bay did trade a Day 3 pick to acquire Shaq Mason, reuniting Brady with one of his longtime Patriots guards. But the team could soon be vulnerable at two guard positions. With interior O-line play vital to Brady-led offenses, the Bucs could be in need of another veteran reinforcement. While it is premature here, center does feature an interestingly experienced free agent crop. J.C. Tretter, Matt Paradis and Trey Hopkins remain available.

For now, Robert Hainsey will take over at the pivot, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Competing for the other guard spot with second-round pick Luke Goedeke and the recently re-signed Aaron Stinnie, Hainsey is a third-round pick in his second season. Tampa Bay quickly addressed the Rob Gronkowski void by signing Kyle Rudolph. If Jensen is set to miss a substantial amount of time, it would not remotely surprise if Tampa Bay signed one of the top free agent snappers.

Ryan Kerrigan Announces Retirement

Following an 11-year career spent entirely in the NFC East, Ryan Kerrigan is walking away. The longtime Washington pass rusher signed a ceremonial contract with the team Friday to announce his retirement.

Kerrigan, 33, will retire as Washington’s all-time sack leader. The former first-round pick collected 95.5 over the course of his 10-season run with the franchise. While Kerrigan did not add to his sack total with the Eagles last season, he played 16 games with the team after signing a one-year deal in May.

Chosen as part of a stacked 2011 draft, Kerrigan earned four Pro Bowl nods and finished with at least 7.5 sacks in each of his first eight seasons. Becoming one of the most durable players in modern NFL history, the Purdue product did not miss a game during that stretch was only sidelined for five during his career. The last came because of a COVID-19 contraction. Team success was fleeting during Kerrigan’s Washington run, but the 3-4 outside linebacker — a role he played for most of his career — remained one of the game’s more consistent edge rushers.

After trading down with the Jaguars in the ’11 draft, in order for Jacksonville to take Blaine Gabbert at No. 10 overall, Washington nabbed Kerrigan at 16. He broke into the team’s starting lineup immediately and did not play a game as a rotational sub until 2020, when the team’s current Chase YoungMontez Sweat D-end configuration formed. Kerrigan signed a five-year, $57.5MM extension seven years ago today and played out that deal. The Eagles gave him a one-year pact worth $1.425MM.

Illustrating how deep the the 2011 draft was for pass rushers, Kerrigan’s 95.5 sacks rank only sixth among that class. His 26 forced fumbles, however, are tied for second among 2011 draftees — matching Von Miller and J.J. Watt. Kerrigan’s five strips led the NFL in 2014. Kerrigan is unlikely to join Miller and Watt in the Hall of Fame, but he anchored the Washington rush for most of his career.

The team reduced his role upon drafting Young in 2020, but the elder edge defender broke Dexter Manley‘s franchise sacks record — though Manley’s 1981 rookie year came before sacks became an official stat — by recording 5.5 that year. The 2020 Washington D-line housed five first-round picks, and it played a major role in helping the team make a surprise playoff run. Kerrigan also added 1.5 sacks in the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Buccaneers in January.

Seahawks, DK Metcalf Agree To Extension

DK Metcalf is sticking around Seattle for the foreseeable future. The receiver has agreed to an extension with the Seahawks, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Jordan Schultz of Boardroom was first with the news (on Twitter).

The former second-round pick got a three-year extension worth $72MM, including $58.2MM guaranteed. The deal also includes a $30MM signing bonus, the largest ever for a wide receiver (per Schefter). By May 2023, Metcalf will have collected $43MM from this deal, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk adds.

Metcalf’s agent, Tory Dandy, finalized the deal with Seahawks GM John Schneider and exec Matt Thomas this afternoon. Interestingly, Dandy is also the agent for 49ers wideout Deebo Samuel, another star receiver from the 2019 draft who’s awaiting an extension.

Metcalf had one year remaining on his rookie contract at just under $4MM. He’ll now be signed through the 2025 campaign, allowing him to get another stab at free agency before his age-28 season. As ESPN’s Brady Henderson points out on Twitter, the Seahawks prefer longer deals when it comes to first-time extensions for players. Ultimately, Metcalf’s camp got their way, leading to a shorter extension that could have been partly inspired by fellow ’19 draft mate Terry McLaurin.

The 24-year-old Metcalf now leads the WR position in guaranteed money, topping the $56.4MM that A.J. Brown got from the Eagles. The total value of the contract ranks 10th at wide receiver (alongside Kenny Golladay and Christian Kirk), and the $24MM average annual value on the three-year extension would rank sixth at the position (tied with Stefon Diggs).

Metcalf sat out mandatory minicamp in pursuit of a new contract. This move surprised some in the organization, and it may have been a bigger shock when the receiver reported to training camp this week but staged a “hold in” while refusing to participate in drills. There seemed to be some optimism that a deal would eventually be signed, although it wasn’t expected to materialize this quickly. Now, the Seahawks will have their top offensive weapon back on the practice field as they prepare for a transitional season on offense.

It didn’t take long for Metcalf to make a name for himself in Seattle. After finishing with 900 receiving yards as a rookie, the wideout earned a Pro Bowl nod and second-team All-Pro recognition in 2020 after finishing with 83 receptions for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns. While he hauled in a career-high 12 touchdowns during the 2021 campaign, he saw a dip in his other key numbers (75 receptions, 967 yards). Still, Metcalf was listed 14th among 115 eligible receivers on Pro Football Focus’ ranking of the position.

With a pair of mainstays (Russell Wilson, Chris Carson) now out in Seattle, Metcalf will be relied on as the leader of a shaky offense. Fortunately, the receiver has had success with Geno Smith under center, at least in the red zone. In Smith’s three starts last season, Metcalf had 14 receptions for 197 yards and three touchdowns.