Newsstand

Patriots, Julian Edelman Agree To Extension

This is breaking news. Please refresh for updates.

Julian Edelman has agreed to a two-year extension with the Patriots, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The new pact will potentially take the wide receiver through the end of his career and allow him to retire in New England. It also comes with a pay bump, though the exact figures are not yet known.

Edelman, who turns 33 on Wednesday, had another productive season in 2018. After missing the first four games of the season due to a ban for PEDs, the veteran amassed 74 catches for 850 yards and six touchdowns. Had he produced at the same rate over the course of a full 16-game season, Edelman would have registered something close to a 93/1063/8 stat line, which is not far off from his best single season performances.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Release Gerald McCoy

Gerald McCoy‘s time in Buccaneers limbo will end with a release. The nine-year veteran has been informed he will be cut soon, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). The Bucs announced the release.

This has been a consideration for a while, but the team has finally decided on a course of action. The Bucs did not want to pay McCoy his $13MM 2019 salary, per Stroud, and did not find a trade partner. Trade talks commenced for two months, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The team did not ask McCoy to take a pay cut.

McCoy will become one of the most attractive free agents on the market. Although, being released in mid-May does not do the longtime Bucs stalwart any favors. He will join fellow 2010 top-five defensive tackle pick Ndamukong Suh as a top-caliber free agent.

Though McCoy failed to make the Pro Bowl last season — his first such omission since 2011 — he still recorded six sacks and rated as one of Pro Football Focus’ upper-echelon interior defenders. McCoy also has avoided serious injuries, the six-time Pro Bowler having played in at least 14 games in each of the past seven seasons.

The signing bonus-averse Bucs will create $13MM in cap space; McCoy had three years remaining on a seven-year, $95.2MM contract. The Bucs currently possess barely $1MM and needed to make a move in order to finish up signing draft picks.

Of course, a Tampa Bay defense that was one of the NFL’s worst in 2018 now will be without its top two pass rushers. Jason Pierre-Paul will be out for a while after sustaining a neck injury in a recent car accident, and McCoy (54.5 career sacks; at least six in six straight seasons) will almost certainly sign elsewhere soon in advance of his age-31 season.

The Bucs used a 2018 first-round pick on Vita Vea and are moving to a 3-4 look after using a 4-3 scheme throughout McCoy’s career. Still, this now profiles as one of the NFL’s most pass rush-needy teams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reuben Foster Believed To Have Torn ACL

The injury that saw Reuben Foster carted away from a Redskins workout Monday appears to indeed be serious. Foster is believed to have suffered a torn ACL, along with additional damage, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

This occurred on the first series of the first drill during Redskins OTAs, the Washington Post’s Kareem Copeland tweets. Foster was seen slamming the turf in agony and sobbing while being driven off of the field.

Foster will continue to see specialists in the near future, Rapoport adds, but this is expected to wipe out his 2019 season. The linebacker has one year remaining on his rookie contract, though the Redskins have a fifth-year option decision to make by May 2020.

Washington made a controversial waiver claim on Foster last season, after the 49ers cut him following another incident allegedly involving domestic violence. The Redskins were the only team to submit a claim. But Foster avoided another suspension and was likely set to be a starting inside linebacker in Washington. That future will be on hold after Monday’s injury.

The Redskins released Zach Brown this offseason and, behind Foster, have only late-round picks at this position. Shaun Dion Hamilton (2018 sixth round), Josh Harvey-Clemons (2017 seventh round) and rookie fifth-round pick Cole Holcomb reside on Washington’s roster. Foster’s setback may prompt the Redskins to gauge the free agent market for possible help alongside Mason Foster. Among the off-ball ‘backers available: Jon Bostic, Josh Bynes, Kelvin Sheppard and Kyle Emanuel.

Reuben Foster has already missed 16 games — due to either injury or suspension — in his first two seasons. By the time the 2019 campaign concludes, the former first-round pick will have missed 32 of a possible 48 regular-season games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins’ Reuben Foster Suffers Injury

Linebacker Reuben Foster was carted off of the Redskins’ practice field with an air cast on his left leg, as Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Nothing is certain yet, but the air cast/cart combo suggests that this is a very serious injury and a likely season-ender. 

Foster was seen slamming the turf in agony and sobbing while being driven off of the field. The linebacker, who escaped suspension for his latest round of domestic violence accusations, is now unlikely to see the field in 2019 for his new team.

Foster, a 2017 first-round pick, is among the most talented linebackers in the NFL. He’s also one of the league’s most controversial players due to his off-the-field transgressions. Foster was accused of roughing up his ex-girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, in February of 2018. Ennis went on to recant that story, but, in November, she alleged Foster of abusing her once again at the 49ers’ team hotel in Florida. The Niners dropped him soon after and the Redskins shocked many in the football world by claiming him off waivers.

The remaining guarantees in Foster’s contract have been voided due to his off-the-field transgressions, but the Redskins will be responsible for his salary if/when he is placed on IR.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chris Long Announces Retirement

After debating it last season, defensive end Chris Long has finally decided to call it a career. The veteran pass-rusher posted a tweet announcing his retirement from the NFL.

“Cheers. Been a hell of a journey. Eleven years and I can honestly say I put my soul into every minute of it. Highs and lows. I’ve seen them both and I appreciate the perspective. Gratitude and love to those who lifted me up,” he wrote. Long is the second significant retirement today, after offensive lineman Travis Swanson decided to hang up his cleats earlier Saturday.

Soon after Long’s announcement, the Eagles released a statement of their own on Twitter, congratulating Long on his career. The second overall pick back in 2008, Long had a very solid career. His contributions off the field might end up surpassing anything he accomplished on it, as Long won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award this past season, and donated his entire 2017 salary to educational charities.

A two-time Super Bowl winner, Long won back to back championships with the Patriots in 2016 and Eagles in 2017. Long spent the first eight years of his career with the Rams, before signing with New England as a free agent. He never did make a Pro Bowl, but he had several Pro Bowl caliber seasons.

In 2011 he had 13 sacks, and he followed it up with 11.5 the next year. In 13 games for the Eagles this past season, all starts, he had 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. The son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long and brother of Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long, he’ll finish his career with 70 sacks and 14 forced fumbles. After losing Long to retirement and trading away Michael Bennett to the Patriots, the Eagles’ pass-rushing group will be a little thin next season.

The Virginia product has been flirting with retirement for a while now, and at the beginning of this month the Eagles agreed to push back a roster bonus date so he could have more time to decide. All of us at PFR wish Long and his family the best as he transitions into a new chapter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Interested In Peyton Manning For GM?

The Jets made news earlier in the week when they fired general manager Mike Maccagnan following free agency and the draft. They could make even bigger news with his replacement, as the team is reportedly interested in filling the role with Peyton Manning, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes

Florio reports that “rumors are flying within league circles” that the team intends to make a run at the future Hall of Fame quarterback, who has ties to new head coach Adam Gase from their time together in Denver. Earlier in the week, Jets CEO and chairman Christopher Johnson told reporters that he wants “a great strategic thinker” for the position rather just a player evaluator.

“I want a great manager, a communicator, who can collaborate well with the building. I’m convinced we’re going to find that person,” he said.

If they want an excellent communicator and a strategic thinker, Manning would seem to be a good fit. One thing remains to be seen and that’s if Manning has any interest in the job. Long thought of for a front-office role or as a commentator on Sundays, Manning undoubtedly has had plenty of opportunities open to him if he wants to get back into the game.

If these rumors turn out to be true and the two sides work to a deal, Manning would be joining a team looking for a fresh start with a young, promising quarterback in Sam Darnold already in tow. Even with a few intriguing pieces, the Jets remain the only team in the NFL to not win at least six games in any of the last three seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Suspends Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson has been suspended for the first six games of the 2019 season, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The ban, a result of a violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, will cost $3.88MM and impact P2’s remaining guarantees. Peterson has already dropped his appeal, so this suspension is already set in stone.

The six-game ban will keep Peterson off the field until Oct. 20, when the Cardinals face the Giants in East Rutherford, New Jersey. That means Peterson, one of the league’s very best cornerbacks, will be sidelined for contests against the Lions, Ravens, Panthers, Seahawks, Bengals, and Falcons.

This is a crushing blow to the Cardinals, who are looking to rebound from a league-worst 3-13 record in 2018. It’s also another weird twist in the ongoing saga between the franchise and Peterson.

Peterson demanded a trade in 2018, though he apologized for his outspokenness in January and said he’s in Arizona “to stay.” But, tensions resurfaced in April amidst speculation that the cornerback wanted out yet again.

Typically, first-time PED violations result in a four-game suspension, but there are instances in which a first-time offender can be banned for additional games. For example, if a PED violation is found through means other than a drug test (known as a “non-analytical positive” in the NFL’s bylaws), a player can be suspended for six games.

Last year, Peterson extended his games played/started streak to 128 and tallied two interceptions, five pass deflections, one sack, and 54 tackles. He earned his eighth consecutive Pro Bowl nod and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 ranked CB in the NFL, edging out Jason McCourtyKyle FullerBryce CallahanPrince Amukamara, and Jonathan Joseph. Only Stephon GilmoreDesmond King II, Chris Harris Jr., and Levi Wallace placed ahead of him.

Furthermore, opposing quarterbacks avoided him like the plague. Peterson was the nearest defender to the targeted receiver on just 10.4% of the coverage snaps he played last season, the fourth-lowest rate among cornerbacks with at least 300 coverage snaps (h/t Seth Walder of ESPN.com, on Twitter).

Peterson, a three-time first-team All Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler, is signed through the 2020 campaign thanks to the five-year, $70MM+ extension he inked with the club in 2014. He’s slated to carry cap numbers of $11.9MM and $13.184MM in each of the next two seasons.

Without Peterson, the Cardinals are left with a CB group headlined by David Amerson, Robert Alford, second-round pick Byron Murphy, and Tramaine Brock.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Trade LB Darron Lee To Chiefs

Interim general manager/head coach Adam Gase has made his first trade. The Jets are trading linebacker Darron Lee to the Chiefs in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round pick, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

The Jets and Chiefs had been discussing a deal involving Lee for weeks, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Former New York general manager Jets GM Mike Maccagnan — who was fired at noon EST today — was reportedly holding out to acquired a fifth-round choice in exchange for Lee, but Gase, who’s taken over personnel authority on an acting basis, executed the swap for a sixth-rounder.

New York replaced Lee in a decisive fashion earlier this offseason, signing free agent linebacker C.J. Mosley to a record-breaking contract which made the ex-Raven the highest-paid off-ball LB in NFL history by a wide margin. Mosley will pair with holdover Avery Williamson as Gang Green’s primary linebackers, leaving Lee — who played on 90% of the Jets’ defensive snaps in the 12 games he played last season — without a starting role.

The Jets further distanced themselves from the 24-year-old Lee by declining his fifth-year option for the 2020 season in advance of the league deadline earlier this month. That option would have paid Lee $9.501MM for his fifth pro NFL campaign, but New York deemed that salary too expensive despite that fact that it would have been guaranteed for injury only.

Despite the low price cost of acquiring him, Lee should have a place in today’s NFL. Pro Football Focus not only graded Lee as the 24th-best linebacker in the league, but assigned him the fourth-highest mark in pass coverage. Additionally, the Jets ranked seventh in the NFL in defensive DVOA against running back receptions, meaning they were extremely effective on a per-play basis against backs in the passing game. That level of play in coverage is beyond valuable, even from the off-ball linebacker position.

While he’s moving on from the Jets and their crowded linebacker depth chart, Lee may have to compete for a clear-cut starting linebacker job on the Chiefs’ roster. Anthony Hitchens played like one of the worst ‘backers in the NFL after inking a five-year, $45MM contract with the Chiefs last offseason, but Kansas City can’t move on from him until 2020 at the earliest. If Hitchens stays in the starting lineup, Lee will be up battle Reggie Ragland (who played roughly 50% of the Chiefs’ defensive snaps a season ago) and Dorian O’Daniel (~25%) for work as KC’s second linebacker.

New York will take on roughly $1.326MM in dead money by trading Lee, while the Chiefs are only the hook for Lee’s base salary of ~$1..844MM. For that financial cost and a sixth-round choice, Kansas City will add another defender to a club that’s already seen the addition of Tyrann Mathieu and Alex Okafor in free agency, Frank Clark and Emmanuel Ogbah bytrade, and Juan Thornhill and Khalen Saunders via the draft. Of course, the Chiefs also parted ways with a number of high-profile defensive players, including Dee Ford and Justin Houston, Eric Berry, and Steven Nelson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Fire GM Mike Maccagnan

The Jets have fired GM Mike Maccagnan, according to a team announcement. New head coach Adam Gase will take over as the team’s interim GM. 

This morning, I informed Mike that he was being relieved of his duties as General Manager of the team, effective immediately,” Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement. “Mike helped to execute the strategic vision of the organization during the last four seasons and especially the past few months. However, I came to the decision to make a change after much thought and a careful assessment of what would be in the best long-term interests of the New York Jets. I will start a search for our new General Manager immediately. In the interim, Coach Gase will be the acting General Manager. I would like to thank Mike for his time and efforts during his tenure, and I wish only the best for him and his wife Betty.”

Maccagnan has long been rumored to be on the hot seat in New York, but few saw the longtime exec getting the hook after the initial waves of free agency and the draft. The GM had two years to go on his deal and the assumption was that Maccagnan would be given at least one more year to turn things around.

Still, Maccagnan’s misses have been glaring. While he has hit on early draft picks such as defensive tackle Leonard Williams and safety Jamal Adams, he’s missed badly in the lower reaches of the draft, which is especially disappointing given his previous track record as a talent evaluator.

The Jets have also whiffed in free agency under Maccagnan’s watch, including the 2018 offseason in which the club failed to land quarterback Kirk Cousins and settled for a monster deal with cornerback Trumaine Johnson. The former Rams standout struggled all season and his five-year, $72.5MM is already looking like a misfire.

Despite all of that, Maccagnan was entrusted to allocate $100MM+ in cap room this offseason and use the team’s No. 3 overall pick in April. The Jets used a big chunk of their cap space to sign Le’Veon Bell, giving the franchise an elite running back in his prime for the first time since Curtis Martin. Meanwhile, Maccagnan used the No. 3 overall pick to select Quinnen Williams, who may prove to be the best overall talent in the 2019 class.

Vice President of Player Personnel Brian Heimerdinger will follow Maccagnan out the door, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Doug Baldwin Bids Farewell To The NFL

Late Sunday night, longtime Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin bid farewell to football with a string of heartfelt tweets. He did not use the word “retirement” at any point, but it’s clear that Baldwin is walking away from the game. 

The end of one journey sees the beginning of another, ” Baldwin wrote towards the end of a letter to his younger self (link). “And, guess what.. it will be one hell of a journey. You will feel emotional and physical pain you never knew existed. You will fail over and over again. But don’t worry, all of it will be the reason why you succeed.”

The Seahawks signed Baldwin as an undrafted free agent out of Stanford in 2011 and he led the Tarvaris Jackson-quarterbacked team in receiving as a rookie before becoming Wilson’s most trusted target. Baldwin was a key member of both Seattle Super Bowl teams this decade, catching touchdown passes in both the Seahawks’ Super Bowl XLVIII win and crushing loss a year later. However, his momentum stalled last season.

Knee, groin and shoulder injuries — which each required surgery — ended Baldwin’s career. But, when Baldwin was healthy, he was a crucial part of the Seahawks’ offense. Wilson‘s ascent into one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks involved lots of help from Baldwin, and there’s no telling where the Seahawks would have been without him. He didn’t end on a statistical high note, but he proved his toughness yet again by suiting up for 13 games last year, despite all of the maladies.

Baldwin, who was released by Seattle last last week, leaves with the second-most touchdown receptions and third-most catches and receiving yards in franchise history, behind only Steve Largent and Brian Blades.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.