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Buccaneers Cut Vernon Hargreaves

The Buccaneers have cut cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Tampa Bay selected Hargreaves in the first round (No. 11 overall) of the 2016 draft and exercised the fifth-year option of his rookie deal back in May, which would have kept the Florida product under club control through 2020.

However, the fifth-year option would have come with a $9.9MM salary and was guaranteed for injury only, so Hargreaves will not have any impact on the Bucs’ cap in 2020. This move comes on the heels of Hargreaves being benched in the second half of Sunday’s victory over the Cardinals for not hustling, and may have been done to send a message to the rest of the locker room. As Jenna Laine of ESPN.com writes, Hargreaves planned to speak with head coach Bruce Arians to discuss the benching and expressed confidence that he and Arians could resolve any issues they might have, but the fact that his lack of hustle was not an isolated incident could have contributed to his ouster. Laine reminds us that Arians sat Hargreaves on the first day of OTAs because he was “not mentally ready to practice.”

The Bucs’ decision is particularly telling given that they have the worst pass defense in the NFL and now have just three healthy corners on the roster. As Greg Auman of The Athletic notes, Tampa will turn to rookies Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting as its starters (Twitter link). Auman tweets that, given the youth and injuries along the CB depth chart, the club is likely to add a corner from outside the organization to replace Hargreaves.

Hargreaves rarely lived up to his first-round billing during his tenure with the Bucs, struggling both outside the numbers and in the slot. However, given his youth and upside, he will surely garner interest from other clubs in need of secondary help. Now that we are past the trade deadline, Hargreaves is subject to waivers, and while he is due just $980K for the remainder of the 2019 season, a team that claims Hargreaves off waivers would also be putting itself on the hook for the 2020 option year. As such, teams may wait for Hargreaves to clear waivers and then attempt to sign him as a free agent.

GM Jason Licht issued the following statement on the transaction (Twitter links to Auman):

“After thoughtful consideration over the past few weeks, Coach Arians and I came to the conclusion that we needed to make this change. Decisions such as this are always difficult, but we felt it was in the best interest of the team to part ways with Vernon at this time and allow him to explore other opportunities. We are disappointed that it did not work out here for Vernon, and we wish him continued success moving forward.”

Hargreaves, a collegiate standout with the Gators, ends his Bucs tenure with two interceptions — including one pick-six — 19 passes defensed, and 164 total tackles in 35 games (33 starts). Injuries limited him to just 10 games between the 2017-18 seasons.

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Eagles, Brandon Brooks Agree To Extension

Brandon Brooks has bounced back quickly from the Achilles tear that consumed his offseason, and the Eagles have reached an extension agreement with their top-tier right guard. The Eagles announced Monday that Brooks signed a four-year extension.

The deal marks a massive raise for Brooks. He agreed to a four-year, $54.2MM re-up, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. That makes Brooks the second-highest-paid guard in the game, with this contract’s $13.6MM AAV behind only Zack Martin‘s $14MM-per-year pact. Brooks was previously making $8MM annually. Brooks’ new contract comes with $30MM guaranteed, tying him for third among guards.

Brooks’ deal, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane, is actually worth $56.2MM (Twitter link). That would bump him past Martin and make the two NFC East blockers the league’s only $14MM-per-year guards. The updated figure — $14.05MM AAV — would make Brooks the NFL’s highest-paid guard.

The Eagles had Brooks signed through the 2020 season but will reward him early. Brooks joins center Jason Kelce and left guard Isaac Seumalo as Eagle linemen who’ve agreed to 2019 extensions. Lane Johnson is also locked up through 2021. Interestingly, the Eagles have re-upped both Kelce and Brooks despite each being north of 30. Brooks turned 30 earlier this year; Kelce is 32.

An All-Pro candidate, Brooks re-emerged as one of the league’s best guards this season — despite suffering an Achilles tear in January. He rates as by far Pro Football Focus’ top overall lineman in 2019. The mammoth blocker initially caught on with Philadelphia in 2016, coming over after three seasons as a Houston starter. He delivered on the Eagles’ initial investment, playing a key role on the team’s Super Bowl LII line and last year’s playoff follow-up. A 2012 second-round pick, Brooks is on track for his third straight Pro Bowl honor.

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Redskins Place Trent Williams On NFI List

The Redskins have placed offensive tackle Trent Williams on the non-football injury list, the club announced today. Now that he’s on NFI, Williams is out for the rest of the season.

Williams reported to Washington in late October following a season-long holdout, but he couldn’t pass his physical after reporting pain while wearing his helmet. The Redskins were reportedly attempting to find Williams a more comfortable helmet, but were apparently unable to do so.

Of course, Williams’ issues with his helmet involves a serious backstory. Williams underwent surgery during the offseason to remove a growth from his head that turned out to be cancerous. The 31-year-old first noticed the growth in 2013, but he says Redskins doctors told him the issue was not severe. However, he’s since been diagnosed with Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans (DFSP), a “soft tissue sarcoma that develops in the deep layers of the skin.”

Williams’ contract is not expected to toll as a result of his being placed on NFI, meaning he’ll be under contract for one more season at a base salary of $12.5MM. The Redskins failed to trade Williams in advance of last month’s deadline, but could reportedly consider moving him in a deal this offseason.

Players on the NFI list aren’t technically required to be paid by their clubs. If Washington opts not to pay Williams, the veteran tackle would likely file a grievance against the team, tweets Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, opening an entirely new battle between the Redskins and their offensive line stalwart.

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Derwin James To Return In Week 13

One of the NFL’s best safeties will be returning for the final stretch of the 2019 campaign. After undergoing surgery during the summer and missing most the season, Chargers defensive back Derwin James is expected to return to game action in Week 13, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

James suffered a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot in August after a screw originally inserted during his freshman year at Florida State bent back. The injury required a surgical operation to remove the screw, and a new screw has since been placed, per Schefter. James is now running without any pain, allowing him to get back on the field after the Chargers complete their Week 12 bye.

The 17th overall pick in the 2018 draft, James entered the NFL with high expectations and quickly surpassed them. The now-23-year-old started all 16 games for Los Angeles during his rookie campaign, posting three interceptions, 13 passes defensed, and 3.5 sacks during that time. Pro Football Focus graded James as the league’s seventh-best safety, while he also garnered a first-team All-Pro nod.

With James and fellow safeties Adrian Phillips and Nasir Adderley on IR, the Chargers have primarily deployed Rayshawn Jenkins and undrafted rookie Roderic Teamer (who is also now injured) in the back end. So far, the results have been lackluster: after finishing 8th in defensive DVOA in 2018, Los Angeles now ranks 26th in the same metric, while the club has fallen from 10th in pass defense DVOA to 23rd.

Sitting at 4-5, the Chargers are on the outside looking in to the AFC playoff race, and FiveThirtyEight.com gives them only a 14% chance of earning a postseason berth. They’ll play the Raiders and Chiefs without James in tow, then face the Broncos, Jaguars, Vikings, Raiders, and Chiefs once James returns.

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Panthers Place Cam Newton On IR

The Panthers announced that they have placed Cam Newton on injured reserve. The quarterback could theoretically return in January, but in all likelihood, his season is over. 

For the past seven weeks, Cam has diligently followed a program of rest and rehab and still is experiencing pain in his foot,” general manager Marty Hurney said. “He saw two foot specialists last week who agreed that he should continue that path prescribed by the team’s medical staff, and that it likely will take significant time for the injury to fully heal.

We have said all along that it is impossible to put a timetable on this injury. Nobody is more frustrated with that fact than Cam. He’s one of the fiercest competitors I’ve been around during my 20-plus years in the League. At this time, we have decided that the best decision to reach the goal of bringing the foot back to 100 percent is to place Cam on injured reserve.”

Before 2018, Newton missed only three starts in seven years. But, last year, things changed drastically, starting with a shoulder injury that required surgery. This year, he’s been hampered by a mid-foot sprain that won’t go away.

In his two games this year, Newton completed 50-of-89 passes for 572 yards and zero touchdown passes with one interception. Meanwhile, he’s due $19.1MM (non-guaranteed) with a $21.1MM cap number in 2020.

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DeSean Jackson To Undergo Surgery

UPDATE, 3:39pm, 11/5/19: The Eagles ended up placing Jackson on injured reserve, the team announced on Twitter. The receiver could potentially return for a playoff run, although it seems more likely that his season is over. He’ll likely end the 2019 campaign having appeared in just one full game plus a couple of snaps last week.

2:40pm, 11/4/19: Following a two-touchdown Week 1, DeSean Jackson has seen an injury define his 2019 season. The premier deep threat’s rebound opportunity will have to wait, and such a chance may not happen at all this year.

Jackson will undergo core muscle surgery Tuesday in Philadelphia, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Jackson returned to action after six missed games Sunday but aggravated the abdominal injury that has plagued him for weeks.

While it’s certainly not a lock Jackson will play again this season, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) this surgery is expected to sideline him for at least six weeks. That would put a possible late-regular-season return, or a playoff cameo should the Eagles get that far, in play. Still, this is a blow for an Eagles passing game that peaked in Week 1 with Jackson healthy.

The Eagles sent the Buccaneers a sixth-round pick for Jackson, a 2008 second-rounder who rose to prominence in Philadelphia. After dominating in his first game back with Philly, Jackson could not shake this injury he suffered in Atlanta. While the team initially decided to treat this injury with rehab, the parties opted for surgery after the aggravation.

Jackson had one season remaining on his Bucs contract at the time of the trade, but he and the Eagles agreed on a three-year, $27MM deal shortly after. Realistically, Jackson is tied to the Eagles through at least 2020. He’s on their books through 2021, but the dead-money hit reduces to $5MM-plus after the ’20 season.

Philadelphia has struggled to generate consistent play from its receivers. Jackson replacement Mack Hollins and Nelson Agholor have contributed little to the cause in weeks, with Alshon Jeffery averaging just 10.8 yards per reception.

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Seahawks Considered Signing Antonio Brown

The Seahawks surprised some folks when they claimed wide receiver Josh Gordon off waivers from the Patriots several days ago, and per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Seattle considered another talented former Patriot who has made plenty of headlines.

Schefter says the Seahawks did their due diligence on free agent Antonio Brown before making the decision to claim Gordon. He adds that QB Russell Wilson was actually lobbying the team to pull the trigger on Brown.

However, Seattle may have been wary of signing Brown because the league’s investigation into the sexual assault/rape allegations that he is facing is not complete. It seems that the only thing left to do in that regard is to interview Brown himself, but there is no indication as to when that interview will take place. If Brown were to sign with a club, the NFL would reportedly place him on the commissioner’s exempt list until its investigation is over, which means the acquiring team would be paying Brown to not play.

Brown has reportedly drawn interest from several clubs since his unceremonious ouster from New England, but the Seahawks are the first team to be definitively connected to AB. Schefter suggests that Seattle could circle back to Brown whenever the league’s investigation is over.

Meanwhile, Gordon will not be on the field for the Seahawks’ matchup against the Buccaneers today, but he is expected to make his Seattle debut against the division-rival 49ers next week.

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Seahawks Claim Josh Gordon

The Seahawks have claimed Josh Gordon off waivers from the Patriots. With that, they’ve added one of the game’s most lethal wide receivers for the home stretch of the 2019 season.

Things have never been simple or straightforward for the simultaneously kind-hearted, troubled, and immensely talented Gordon. This year was no exception.

Gordon had his highs, including six catches for 83 yards in a September blowout of the Jets. Then, unfortunately, came the lows. Late last month, the Patriots placed Gordon on injured reserve due to left knee and ankle trouble. The Pats felt that Gordon would not be able to play again this season. Gordon, meanwhile, says he’ll be ready to play sometime next week or the week after. The disagreement led to divorce, but the Patriots refused to let him go until after Tuesday’s trade deadline, when he would be subject to waivers and, in theory, kept away from contenders.

So much for that. The Seahawks, with a 6-2 record and No. 28 priority in the NFL’s waiver queue, landed Gordon, must to the surprise and delight of head coach Pete Carroll. Quarterback Russell Wilson is elated too – he suddenly has another playmaker to help stretch the field and give fits to opposing defenses.

Gordon, 28, tallied 20 catches for 287 yards and one touchdown in six games this year. At times, he flashed (get it?) the ability that propelled him to an absurd 87/1,646/9 stat line in 2013, a campaign that resulted in Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro nods.

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Broncos Place Joe Flacco On IR

The Broncos are placing Joe Flacco on injured reserve, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). This will mark the end of the quarterback’s season and, possibly, his time in Denver. 

Flacco is owed $20.5MM in 2020, but the Broncos can save $10MM by cutting him loose beforehand. In eight games for the Broncos this year, Flacco completed 65.3% of his passes, but threw just six touchdowns against five interceptions. The completion percentage marked a career high for Flacco, but the TD/INT ratio is his worst ever.

Injuries have dogged the former Super Bowl champ for much of his career – he missed time in 2015 and 2018 and also dealt with back pain in 2017. With his 35th birthday on the horizon in January, there’s no telling what’s next for Flacco.

The silver lining is that Flacco’s neck injury is not believed to be a career-threatening injury. Flacco could still continue playing in 2020, it seems, provided that he is willing to play for much less than his current contract.

With Flacco out of the picture, the Broncos will start Brandon Allen on Sunday against the Browns. He’ll be backstopped by Brett Rypien, who was recently promoted from the practice squad.

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49ers’ Kwon Alexander Done For Year

That’s a wrap on Kwon Alexander‘s season. The 49ers linebacker will miss the remainder of the season with a torn pectoral muscle, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets

Earlier today, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that he was nervous about the MRI. After doctors reviewed the scans, they confirmed his (and Alexander’s) worst fears.

The Niners signed Alexander to a four-year, $54MM deal in March with $27MM guaranteed. Former Bucs star and current 49ers GM John Lynch was high on Alexander – perhaps a touch higher than other clubs this offseason – but things haven’t gone according to plan in the 25-year-old’s first season with SF. After missing 14 games between 2017 and 2018, he’ll miss the second half of the ’19 campaign, plus the playoffs.

Through eight games, Alexander rates as Pro Football Focus’ No. 33 ranked linebacker in the NFL (though, PFF’s metrics have never been high on his work). At the time of his season-ending ACL tear in 2018, PFF had him as the 53rd-ranked LB in the league.

On the plus side – Shanahan believes that tight end George Kittle’s knee injury is a short-term issue. Also, the 49ers are 8-0 – that also helps to ease the pain of losing one of their defensive starters.

The 49ers topped the Cardinals on Thursday night to keep their undefeated streak going. On Monday Nov. 11, they’ll return to action to face another division rival when they take on the Seahawks.

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