Olivier Vernon

Final Terms Of Odell Beckham Jr. Trade

The trades of Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon were originally reported as separate moves, but the Browns and Giants have have each announced the acquisitions as one large transaction. Additionally, as Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com first reported, the fourth- and fifth-round picks that were originally part of the Vernon/Kevin Zeitler trade are no longer involved in the swap.

Here are the full terms of the stunning trade:

Browns acquire:

Giants acquire:

Browns, Giants Alter Zeitler/Vernon Trade

When the Browns and Giants agreed to swap guard Kevin Zeitler and defensive end Olivier Vernon earlier this week, the two clubs also decided to trade draft picks: Cleveland was set to give up a fifth-round pick (No. 155) to New York, while Big Blue send a fourth-round pick (No. 132) to the Browns. Now, following the deal that will send Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland, the two teams have agreed to revise the Zeitler/Brown trade.

The pick swap will no longer occur, according to Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com (Twitter link). Instead, Zeitler will simply be traded straight up for Vernon, while OBJ will go to the Browns in a separate move. However, you can look at both swaps together as such: Beckham and Vernon for Zeitler, Peppers, No. 17 overall and No. 95 overall.

It’s unclear as to why the Giants and Browns have reached this agreement. The return for Beckham has been widely panned, so it’s possible the Giants asked for the Vernon/Zeitler pick swap to be eliminated as something of a face-saving move (although undoing a 23-spot drop in the draft probably isn’t worth all that much).

Giants To Trade Olivier Vernon To Browns

The Giants are trading Olivier Vernon to the Browns, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). In return, the Giants will receive guard Kevin Zeitler (Twitter link). The Giants had originally agreed to send the No. 132 pick to Cleveland, with the Browns shipping No. 155 back to New York, but the two side have since canceled that portion of the swap.

The deal gives the Browns a formidable defensive end combo between Vernon and Myles Garrett. The swap also allows the Browns to focus on other areas of need next week, rather than overpaying for valued edge rushers.

Vernon inked a massive five-year, $85MM deal with the Giants in 2016. A few years later, the Giants found themselves looking to unload him or potentially release him outright. Vernon is still productive, but he no longer profiles as one of the best edge rushers in the NFL. Even at his time of signing, his contract was a function of an inflated pass rushing market that continues to be player friendly.

Vernon is due $15.5MM in each of the two remaining years on his deal. The Browns had roughly $77MM in cap space entering Friday, but it’s not immediately clear whether the Giants will be chipping in towards what Vernon is owed. Such an arrangement is not unheard of. In the Case Keenum trade between the Broncos and Redskins, for example, the Broncos agreed to pay half of Keenum’s 2019 salary.

Vernon, 28, gave the Giants a career-high 8.5 sacks in his first season with the club. He’s continued to get to the QB with 22 sacks over the course of three years, but injuries have cost him nine games over the last two campaigns. Last year, he averaged four pressures per contest in eleven games.

The Giants, meanwhile, pick up one of the league’s best interior lineman in the trade. Zeitler was Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 ranked guard last season and is midway through a five-year, $60MM deal. The 29-year-old is set to make $10MM this season, though much of that hit will be absorbed by the Browns.

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Giants To Keep Olivier Vernon?

The Giants are leaning toward keeping linebacker Olivier Vernon, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Previously, it was believed that Vernon would either be traded or released outright. 

Vernon inked a massive five-year, $85MM deal with the Giants in 2016, under their old regime. The new regime explored the notion of moving Vernon in exchange for draft capital, but his contract is likely a barrier to getting a deal done.

Vernon, 28, gave the Giants a career-high 8.5 sacks in his first season with the club. He’s continued to get to the QB with 22 sacks over the course of three years, but injuries have cost him nine games over the last two campaigns. Last year, he averages four pressures per contest in eleven games.

Vernon is set to carry cap hits of $15.5MM in each of the next two seasons. Vernon would result in $11.5MM in cap savings, but would also saddle the team with $8MM in dead money. Meanwhile, productive edge rushers are hard to find, so moving on from Vernon doesn’t make a ton of sense on the whole.

Keeping Vernon will also give the Giants some consistency on defense, which they’ll need after moving on from star safety Landon Collins.

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Extra Points: Tags, Haskins, Jets, Bucs

Both the Chiefs and Texans may be in for grievances. Both teams used their franchise tags on edge defenders — Dee Ford and Jadeveon Clowney, respectively — and each team officially classified its tag recipient as a linebacker. The linebacker tag comes at a $15.443MM price. Both players have cases to be tagged as defensive ends, with Clowney frequently lining up as a lineman for Houston and Ford set to play end in Kansas City’s new 4-3 scheme. The defensive end price: $17.128MM — the second-highest tag figure. Clowney already received just more than $1MM from the Texans to resolve a dispute about what position he was categorized as in regards to his fifth-year option. That may go toward preempting a grievance here, but it’s not certain. A Ford grievance seems likely. He spends more time rushing from the defensive end position in the Chiefs’ sub-packages. Terrell Suggs filed a grievance about a linebacker tag in 2008, and an arbitrator ruled the parties to split the difference between the linebacker and end tags. But this is a case-by-case process.

Here is the latest from the pre-free agency news cycle:

  • While Janoris Jenkins is set to avoid cap-casualty status, another member of the Giants‘ 2016 free agency defender splurge may not. Whether Olivier Vernon is traded or cut, the veteran edge rusher is a near-certainty to be jettisoned from the Giants’ defense, Tom Rock of Newsday notes. As is the case with Landon Collins‘ exit, a Vernon departure would create a massive need on a New York defense that has several need areas.
  • Dwayne Haskins has been a popular mock pick for the Giants, and Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes Big Blue indeed has been “all over” the Ohio State-developed quarterback, researching his viability as Eli Manning‘s successor. Dave Gettleman does not plan to turn the keys over to a later-round pick, with Vacchiano adding the heir apparent will be a first-round choice. So if the Giants balk at a passer with another top-10 pick, they may be willing to roll the dice one more time and wait until 2020.
  • Mike Maccagnan has said the Jets will be aggressive in free agency, which would make sense given the team’s plethora of needs and $100MM-plus in cap space. Gang Green will attempt to find a center and a guard in free agency, per Vacchiano. This comes after the Jets cut 2018 center Spencer Long. There are some interesting center options, with Matt Paradis and Mitch Morse set to hit the market. At guard, there aren’t as many younger free agents; the top options are deeper into their careers.
  • Donovan Smith‘s 2019 cap figure will still be hefty, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com, who notes the Buccaneers‘ left tackle will carry a $12.5MM figure next season. Although it is not the $14.1MM figure Smith was briefly attached to via the franchise tag, that is still a large number for a team that does not have much cap space. Smith’s 2020 and ’21 base salaries will be $14.5MM and $14.25MM, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
  • Former Bears head coach Mark Trestman will return to coach in the States. He’s been hired as HC of the XFL’s Tampa Bay team. He joins Bob Stoops, Jim Zorn and Pep Hamilton as coaches to have signed on with the rebooting league. An acclaimed CFL coach prior to his two-season Bears stay, Trestman went back to Canada and was the Toronto Argonauts’ HC for the past two seasons.

Giants Exploring Olivier Vernon Trades

The Giants have discussed the possibility of trading linebacker Olivier Vernon with other clubs, sources tell Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Vernon inked a massive five-year, $85MM deal with the Giants in 2016, but the club is now looking to move his deal and put those resources to use elsewhere. 

Vernon, 28, gave the Giants a career-high 8.5 sacks in his first season with the club. He’s continued to get to the QB with 22 sacks over the course of three years, but injuries have cost him nine games over the last two campaigns. Last year, he averages four pressures per contest in eleven games.

Currently, Vernon is set to carry cap hits of $15.5MM in each of the next two seasons. The Giants have also considered releasing him outright, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (on Twitter) hears, so this could be a last ditch effort for the club to get something instead of losing him for nothing. Cutting Vernon would result in $11.5MM in cap savings, but would also saddle the team with $8MM in dead money.

It stands to reason that other clubs will be interested in adding Vernon, especially now that Eagles standout Brandon Graham is off the market. The Jets, for example, could use an edge rusher of his caliber, and the two sides could theoretically discuss Vernon in a deal that would call for the Jets to move down from the No. 3 overall pick to the No. 6 overall choice. Of course, it’s not a given that the two sides will do business together.

Despite the injuries and the Giants’ overall woes, Vernon graded out as the 13th best edge defender in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus. His 86.3 score – from an admittedly smaller sample of 665 snaps – ranked as the best mark of his career.

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Giants Activate DE Josh Mauro

A familiar staple of James Bettcher‘s recent defenses will make his Giants debut on Sunday. The team activated defensive end Josh Mauro on Saturday.

To make room on their 53-man roster, the Giants waived wide receiver Stacy Coley. Jawill Davis is expected to return kicks for the Giants, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets.

Mauro played on each of Bettcher’s three Cardinals defenses, starting 24 games during Bettcher’s stay as Arizona’s DC. Although Mauro is more of a run-stopping presence at end (two career sacks), any additional qualified personnel being available stands to help a Giants team that’s again going to be without Olivier Vernon. Afflicted with a troublesome high ankle sprain, Big Blue’s top pass rusher will miss a fifth straight game.

The NFL suspended Mauro four games for violating its policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

New York claimed Coley earlier this year after Minnesota waived the second-year wideout. He returned two kicks and two punts against the Texans in Week 3, but Davis served as the Giants’ kick-return man against the Saints.

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NFC Injury Notes: Rodgers, Falcons, Eagles

Aaron Rodgers will enter Sunday with a questionable designation on the Packers‘ injury report. The two-time MVP can improve his chances of playing, obviously, by practicing Saturday — when the Packers do more than the typical walkthrough — but not doing so won’t prevent him from playing. Mike McCarthy said he’d have no issues deploying Rodgers even if he doesn’t practice all week, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. The 13th-year Green Bay coach said his quarterback feels better than he did at the beginning of the week. Despite Rodgers’ performance on Sunday against the Bears and his history of playing through left knee pain, he’s not a lock to face the Vikings.

Here’s the latest from the NFC’s injury situations.

  • Another key Falcons cog won’t be available Sunday. After the losses of Keanu Neal and Deion Jones, Atlanta won’t have the services of starting running back Devonta Freeman. He’s been declared out due to the knee injury he suffered against the Eagles. Tevin Coleman will start. The Falcons have rookie Ito Smith and recently signed Brian Hill in place as backups.
  • Once again, the Giants won’t have their top pass rusher available. While the Giants are hoping to have Olivier Vernon in Week 3, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter), his high ankle sprain will keep him out against the Cowboys.
  • Trai Turner‘s stay in Panthers concussion protocol will result in him missing this week’s game against the Falcons. He’s been declared out, putting Carolina down three starting offensive linemen — Turner and tackles Matt Kalil and Daryl Williams, both of whom residing on IR — going into its NFC South opener.
  • The already-banged-up Eagles didn’t come out of Week 1 unscathed. Darren Sproles will miss Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. The 34-year-old passing-down back sustained a hamstring injury against the Falcons. He’ll join Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery among Philadelphia’s high-profile Week 2 absences.
  • Already without IR-stationed cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the Bucs won’t have Brent Grimes available to cover Eagle wideouts, either. Tampa Bay used two second-round picks on corners, Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart, and could see an extended glimpse of the rookies’ development to this point in their careers.
  • The Lions49ers game will see the visitors without top guard T.J. Lang and the hosts missing deep threat Marquise Goodwin. Both players have been declared out. Kyle Shanahan said (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, on Twitter) Dante Pettis will start in place of Goodwin.

Injury Notes: Berry, Giants, Titans, Falcons

Some teams will be opening their seasons without key defenders. Here’s the latest from the Week 1 injury front:

  • The nagging heel issue Eric Berry‘s been dealing with will likely keep him out of Week 1. Andy Reid (via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com, on Twitter) does not expect his All-Pro safety to be available when the Chiefs play arguably their toughest AFC West game of the season — a road tilt against the Chargers. Berry’s been held out of practice this week. He missed the Chiefs’ final 15 games of last season with an Achilles tear, his second severe NFL injury. Berry’s right heel’s plagued him in recent weeks, and was also an issue in Kansas City’s 2017 training camp; the ninth-year safety tore his left Achilles’ tendon in Week 1 of last season. He hasn’t practice since August 11. Eric Murray and the recently reacquired Ron Parker are K.C.’s likely safety starters, per Teicher.
  • Suffering a high ankle sprain in practice late last month, Olivier Vernon will not be available for the Giants on Sunday. Vernon will miss New York’s Week 1 game against Jacksonville, Pat Shurmur said (via SNY.tv’s Ralph Vacchiano). This will pose a problem for the Giants’ pass rush, which is now without Jason Pierre-Paul. This could push rookie Lorenzo Carter into Big Blue’s lineup Sunday, per Matt Lombardo of NJ.com, who adds the Georgia-developed edge defender may play plenty regardless of his first-string status.
  • The Titans will be missing some key players but may also have one back sooner than expected. Derrick Morgan‘s meniscus issue hasn’t stopped him from practicing this week, and the ninth-year edge player practiced fully on Thursday to put him in line to start Sunday. However, the Titans will begin their season without Jack Conklin, Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry, Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com tweets. Evans and Landry were Tennessee’s top two 2018 draft picks.
  • Keanu Neal‘s Week 1 injury (an ACL tear) proved to be the biggest health news thus far on Friday, and the Falcons may not seek an outside replacement. Damontae Kazee is likely the next man up for the Falcons, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, rather than Atlanta going after former Dan Quinn charge Earl Thomas or UFA Eric Reid.
  • Joey Bosa may miss Week 1 as well, and the Chargers‘ dynamic pass rusher was spotted in a walking boot on Friday, Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Bosa will be out for Sunday’s game, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Bosa missed the preseason with a foot injury, but Wang notes (on Twitter) that ailment healed and that the third-year defensive end is week-to-week because of a different malady on that same foot. While the Bolts have maybe the NFL’s best edge-rushing tandem in Bosa and Melvin Ingram, they aren’t especially deep at that position.
  • Jesse James will start at tight end for the Steelers on Sunday against the Browns. Vance McDonald will miss Pittsburgh’s opener, per Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews (Twitter link). A foot injury shelved McDonald during the preseason, halting the tight end’s offseason momentum as he prepares for his second Steelers season.

Olivier Vernon Has High Ankle Sprain

The Giants’ pass rush was slated to look quite different entering this season, given the trade of Jason Pierre-Paul and switch to a 3-4 defense. It may start the year missing its most prominent component as well.

Olivier Vernon is dealing with a high ankle sprain, Pat Shurmur said during a radio interview with WFAN 660 (via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, on Twitter).

Vernon was carted off a Giants practice field late last month but was believed to have avoided a serious injury. While a high ankle sprain isn’t considered an especially serious setback, it can take some time to surmount. Although Vernon’s status for Sunday’s Giants-Jaguars game isn’t known, Shurmur said his top pass rusher is a fast healer. That said, he probably shouldn’t be expected to be 100 percent if he is able to play in Week 1.

Vernon experienced ankle trouble last season. He missed four games — his first four absences as a pro — because of it.

James Bettcher‘s implemented his 3-4 scheme in New York, shifting Vernon from defensive end to outside linebacker. Vernon missing time would thrust Connor Barwin or Lorenzo Carter into a starting role opposite Kareem Martin, with each of these players not being quite on Vernon’s level in terms of pass-rushing consistency.

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