Newsstand

Saints To Sign Shane Vereen

The Saints are signing former Patriots and Giants running back Shane Vereen, a source tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Terms of the deal are not yet known, but its likely a one-year deal worth something close to the veteran’s minimum. 

Vereen, 29, made a name for himself with the Patriots and really came into his own from 2012-2014. In 2015, he hooked on with the Giants and was quietly productive. In his first season with the G-Men, Vereen averaged 4.3 yards per carry and caught 59 passes for 495 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, his ’16 season was derailed by injuries and he wasn’t all that productive last year as the Giants lost their best receivers and opposing defenses stacked the box. He had 44 grabs last season, but he averaged a career-low 5.8 yards per catch.

Vereen won’t be tasked with playing as a No. 1 running back with the Saints, but he could be a difference maker in small doses. Alvin Kamara will serve as New Orleans’ top rusher and Vereen might be able to start the year as their top pass-catching RB while Mark Ingram serves his four-game suspension.

In addition to Kamara, Ingram, and Vereen, the Saints also have running backs Trey EdmundsDaniel LascoJonathan Williams, and sixth-round pick Boston Scott under contract.

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Darrelle Revis Retires From NFL

Darrelle Revis announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday. This was the expected move after an offseason in which Revis’ name has hardly been mentioned. 

For the past eleven years, it has truly been an honor to showcase one of my greatest gifts to the world. Today, I am closing a chapter in my life that I once creamed of as a kid and I am officially retiring from the National Football League,” Revis said in a press release. “The game of football has opened doors for me I once thought were nearly impossible to get through. My passion to play the game at an elite level brought fun and excitement to the term “shutdown corner,” which was nearly on the verge of extinction. Covering some of the toughest assignments in league history was a challenge every Sunday, but also an honor within this game we all love. I would like to thank my coaches, teammates, and mentors who have made a significant impact in my life and helped to create amazing memories that my family and I will cherish for a lifetime. I’m excited as to what lies ahead as I pursue new ventures in different industries. Long live Revis Island.”

Revis, 33, was one of the league’s very best cornerbacks during his first stint with the Jets. After six seasons, four Pro Bowl nods, and three First-Team All-Pro selections, Revis was traded to the Buccaneers in 2013.

Revis was released after one season with Tampa Bay, which led him to the Patriots. Much to the chagrin of Jets fans, Revis had a stellar season and helped the Pats capture a Super Bowl win over the Seahawks.

The Jets attempted to rewrite history by signing Revis in the 2015 offseason, but the five-year, $70MM deal ($39MM guaranteed) given to him turned out to be one of the franchise’s biggest blunders in recent memory. The deal was supposed to allow Revis to retire as a Jet, but the team had no choice but to jettison him after two seasons.

Then, last year, the Chiefs signed Revis in November with the hope that he could help bolster their secondary. Unfortunately, Revis was nowhere near his 2014 form and some questioned his work ethic. After an offseason with no real chatter, Revis is calling it quits.

Revis’ second act with the Jets was a disappointment, but he will be remembered as one of the best cornerbacks of his time. The receivers who went to “Revis Island” from 2007-2014 were largely nullified, which is why Revis is a surefire bet for the Hall of Fame.

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Cardinals Suspend GM Steve Keim

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim pleaded guilty today to extreme DUI. Shortly thereafter, the organization announced that they have suspended and fined the executive. The punishment stems from an incident earlier this month.

Keim will ultimately be suspended for five weeks and will be fined $200K. According to the team, that money will be donated to the Arizona chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. During the suspension, Keim won’t be allowed to contact or visit the team. He also won’t be allowed to return until he completes “counseling and evaluation, in addition to a DUI education course.”

“As stated at the time of the incident, this behavior is indefensible and completely unacceptable,” the team said in a statement. “While Steve has accepted full accountability and responsibility for his actions, that does not diminish their gravity nor the severity of the consequences that result from them.”

Keim was cited for a DUI back on July 5th. He was booked and released that same night. Keim joined the organization as a college scout in 1999, and he quickly worked his way up the ranks. He was named general manager back in 2013, and he inked a four-year extension with the team in February.

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Cowboys’ Randy Gregory Reinstated

Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory has been reinstated on a conditional basis, according to an announcement from the NFL. Gregory will be permitted to be with the team in training camp. After that, he’ll be able to take part in regular season practices and games if he continues to be in compliance with the NFL’s substance abuse policy. 

This marks a massive victory for Gregory, who was previously banished from the NFL. Most banished players do not earn the right to return, but Gregory has been welcomed back after going through therapy and getting clean.

The former second-round pick will be in Stage 3 of the league substance abuse program for the next two years, which means that he will be subject to frequent random testing. He’s more or less in a zero-tolerance zone at this point, so a failed or missed test could be a career-ender.

The Cowboys would love for Gregory to be a contributor right away in his return. David Irving is suspended for the first four games of the season and fellow defensive tackle Maliek Collins isn’t a lock to return for the Cowboys‘ Week 1 contest. Gregory could give the Cowboys some much-needed defensive line support off of the bench, which could help to offset their early-season losses on the interior.

Gregory was a highly-touted prospect heading into the 2015 draft, but a failed marijuana test caused his draft stock to fall. In 14 career games, the defensive end has compiled 15 tackles and one sack. The Cowboys will hope for the best when it comes to Gregory, but it’s not exactly clear what kind of player he can be for them.

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Rams Sign Brandin Cooks To Extension

Brandin Cooks is set to be a member of the Rams for years to come. On Tuesday, the Rams signed Cooks to a five-year extension, according to a team announcement. Cooks is now under club control through the 2023 season. 

The five-year extension is worth $80MM, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). When including his pre-existing 2018 season, he’s tied to L.A. for six years at a total of $88MM. The new money average of $13.3MM per year positions Cooks as the 11th-highest paid wide receiver in the NFL, just behind Allen Robinson and ahead of notables such as T.Y. Hilton, Alshon Jeffery, and Doug Baldwin.

Cooks has four years of NFL experience and has been one of the league’s best wide receivers for the last three. While he has had the benefit of playing for two future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks in Drew Brees and Tom Brady, there is no denying his individual talent. Many perceive him to be primarily a deep threat, but new head coach Sean McVay sees him as a well-rounded receiver.

“He’s a guy — if you just look at, really, his career — he is a really fast player, but he can do everything,” McVay said. “He plays big for a smaller-stature guy. But he’s strong. He can win short, he can win intermediate, he can go down the field. So I think you’re really not limited in any way that you can utilize him. And there’s a reason why he’s had over 1,000 yards and [at least] seven touchdowns each of the last three years. And he’s a special player for sure.”

This offseason, the Rams shipped a first- and sixth-round pick to the Patriots for Cooks. It was a considerable haul, but the deal gave L.A. the ability to franchise tag Lamarcus Joyner while allowing wide receiver Sammy Watkins to leave in free agency. Cooks also represents a younger – and arguably better – alternative to Watkins.

After giving up a first-round pick for Cooks, there was little chance that the Rams would allow him to walk in free agency next year. Indeed, the Rams moved quickly to begin talks with Cooks with the understanding that they would have to make him one of the highest-paid players at his position.

With Cooks in the books, the Rams can now focus on their other contractual priorities, including defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Joyner, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and offensive linemen Rodger Saffold, Rob Havenstein, and Jamon Brown are also among those set for free agency after the 2018 season.

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Bell’s Agent: “Likely” Last Year With Steelers

As expected, the Steelers and Le’Veon Bell did not agree to an extension before Monday’s deadline. With that, Bell’s agent Adisa Bakari says the running back is not long for Pittsburgh. 

His intention was to retire as a Steeler. But now that there’s no deal, the practical reality is, this now likely will Le’Veon’s last season as a Steeler,” Bakari said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). “It became clear the Steelers wanted to pay the position, not the player.”

The latter part of Bakari’s quote pretty much sums it up. The Steelers have shown a willingness to make Bell the highest-paid running back in the NFL in terms of yearly average, but Bell has been pushing for a deal to compensate him as a world-class rusher who is also a high-end receiver. Meanwhile, he wanted a long-term deal to have more weight than the average NFL contract, which means high guarantees and heavy cash flow in the early years.

At last check, the Steelers were offering Bell roughly $13.3MM per season on a multi-year extension. Bell’s camp, meanwhile, asked for $17MM per year. The two sides were talking right up until the deadline, but the gap was too large to bridge.

In 2018, Bell’s $14.5MM salary will make him the top breadwinner at the running back position. However, the highest paid RB on a long-term deal is still Falcons star Devonta Freeman ($8.25MM/year). Cardinals running back David Johnson may top him with a new extension this summer, but he has less juice to work with after Bell did not reach an accord.

If Bell continues to play at a high level, he’ll be in line to revolutionize the running back market next year in free agency.

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Latest On Franchise-Tagged Players

Monday’s 3pm CT deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions may come and go without one being finalized.

After a Saturday report indicated re-ups were unlikely for DeMarcus Lawrence and Ziggy Ansah, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirmed Ansah and the Lions won’t agree to terms by Monday afternoon and adds Lawrence is unlikely to come to terms with the Cowboys (Twitter links).

As for the other two tagged players, prospects also appear grim. Schefter reports (on Twitter) Lamarcus Joyner is not expected to reach an extension with the Rams, though he adds the sides are still discussing one. And despite Mike Tomlin‘s hopes of Le’Veon Bell finally agreeing to a Steelers accord, Schefter reports (via Twitter) that’s unlikely, too. However, the Steelers and Bell have made recent progress and will keep trying until the deadline. But this report throws some cold water on an 11th-hour solution coming to pass.

Ansah and the Lions have been far apart throughout this process, and the Lions are planning to see if their top edge defender can stay healthy and prove reliable enough for a long-term commitment. The Cowboys may be using the same strategy with their injury-prone pass rusher, despite making a stronger effort to discuss a deal with Lawrence.

Bell and the Steelers have been circling each other for years, but if the parties can’t agree by Monday afternoon, their arrangement will be a full-fledged rental situation. Bell will likely be headed toward the 2019 UFA market if the Steelers don’t sign him by Monday. The Rams’ issues with Aaron Donald‘s deal leave Joyner in a strange spot. Los Angeles possesses a league-low $2MM in cap space and has a glut of contract calls coming — Donald, Joyner, Brandin Cooks, Todd Gurley, Marcus Peters — in what will be a complicated stretch for the now-high-profile team.

Of course, by the Lions, Cowboys and Rams not agreeing on deals with their tagged performers, that ups prices down the line. Since Bell has already been twice tagged, it would cost the Steelers a staggering $20MM-plus to tag their All-Pro back again.

Ansah is going to play this season for $17.1MM, and if Lawrence indeed is still without a deal by Monday evening, he will too. Joyner will count nearly $12MM on the Rams’ payroll, while Bell’s $14.5MM 2018 salary has been well-known for months by NFL contract buffs.

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Darren Sproles To Retire After 2018 Season

Eagles running back Darren Sproles will retire from the NFL after the 2018 season, as the veteran explained in a post today.

“The plan was for 2017 to be my last season,” writes Sproles. “I was 34, had a great career, accomplished a lot—it was time. No one ever expected my career to last this long, over a decade but I was proud to prove them all wrong. Then my season ended a little earlier than expected, to an injury.

An injury is different; It’s something you don’t have any control over but I feel like I left a lot out there, and I couldn’t let my career end like that.”

As Sproles alludes to, he’d originally hinted that 2017 would be his final NFL campaign, but backtracked on that sentiment even before multiple injuries ended his season in September. Sproles not only suffered a torn ACL, but a broken arm during the first month of the 2017 season, which concluded with Sproles having played in just three games.

After deciding to return for 2018, Sproles inked a one-year deal with the Eagles that contains $1MM in guarantees. Now 35 years old, Sproles will be part of a Philadelphia backfield that also includes Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Matt Jones, Wendell Smallwood, and Donnel Pumphrey. Sproles should be guaranteed a roster spot, and will likely handle passing game work in the Eagles’ offense.

Maintaining value based on his receiving skills is nothing new for Sproles, who has never topped 100 carries in a season during his lengthy pro tenure. Sproles spent the early portion of his career as LaDainian Tomlinson‘s backup with the Chargers, but emerged to even greater prominence as a backfield weapon for Drew Brees and the Saints. He was shipped to the Eagles in 2015 in exchange for a fifth-round pick.

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DeMarco Murray To Retire From NFL

DeMarco Murray has played his last down in the NFL. Today, Murray will announce his retirement from football, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). 

Murray, 30, was looking for work this offseason and met with several teams to try and find the right opportunity. Earlier this week, Murray reaffirmed his desire to continue playing. But, for one reason or another, the veteran has decided to call it quits.

I’ve had a lot of discussions with four or five teams that I feel will be a great fit for me,” Murray said in an ESPN podcast released on Monday. “It’s all about being transparent and, for me, I’m not looking to lead the league in rushing yards. Obviously I would work and do everything to give me the opportunity to do that, but it’s all about having an opportunity to get to the playoffs and have an opportunity to win a championship.”

Perhaps realizing the limitations of what he can do at this stage of his career, Murray will move on from football in order to pursue other interested. Although he led the league with 1,845 rushing yards in 2014 with the Cowboys and nearly cracked 1,300 in 2016 with the Titans, he was largely overshadowed in Tennessee by Derrick Henry last year.

The Titans released Murray in March and subsequent meetings with the LionsSeahawks, and Dolphins did not yield a contract. In June, the 30-year-old declined an opportunity to work out for the Saints. The timing of Murray’s decision is a curious one. Training camp often leads to injuries, which would have meant more opportunities for Murray. There’s also the ongoing situation in Buffalo that could leave the Bills without star LeSean McCoy to star the season.

Murray will be best remembered for his brilliant performances with the Cowboys, which included his first 1,000-yard season in 2013 and his unbelievably productive campaign in 2014 in which he totaled 2,261 all-purpose yards. Murray’s free agent deal with the Eagles was a dud, but he did enjoy a bounce-back season with the Titans in ’16.

When he was at his best, Murray was one of the league’s most electrifying rushers and he leaves the game with an impressive body of work. We here at PFR wish Murray the best in retirement.

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Marcell Dareus Sued For Sexual Assualt

An unidentified Texas woman is suing Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, accusing him of both sexual assault and the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease, reports Chris Parenteau of News 4 Jacksonville.

The anonymous claims Dareus had sex with her after she had fallen asleep, and is now seeking $15K in damages. Thus far, it’s unclear whether any criminal suit has been brought against Dareus, but the Jacksonville defender’s attorney said his client isn’t aware of any current pending charges.

Dareus, whom the Jaguars acquired from the Bills just prior to the 2017 trade deadline, has been involved in off-field trouble before, but his violations have mostly been related to substance abuse. Legal resolution aside, Dareus could serve a league-imposed suspension based on the outcome of a sure-to-come NFL investigation. Policy standards indicate a baseline six-game suspension for a sexual assault incident, but the bans for such offenses have varied in length.

Jacksonville sent a fifth-round pick to Buffalo in exchange for the now 28-year-old Dareus, who went to play nine games for the club during the regular season and three contests during the Jaguars’ postseason run to the AFC Championship Game. $7.35MM of Dareus’ 2018 base salary is fully guaranteed, meaning he’ll collect that money whether he’s on Jacksonville’s roster or not. The same is true of that total on the Jaguars’ salary cap, although the club would realize a net savings of $2.825MM if the results of a future investigation lead to a release.

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