Olivier Vernon

NFC Notes: Vernon, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Redskins

As part of new defensive coordinator James Bettcher‘s blitz-happy, aggressive 3-4 defense, the Giants will be moving Olivier Vernon from a defensive end to a pass-rushing outside linebacker. As a result of this change, Matt Lombardo of NJ.com believes the 27-year-old will end up being the key to a successful Giants defense.

“We know [Olivier Vernon] is a dynamic guy,” Bettcher said. “He’s a guy that can rush from different angles, a guy that you can move around and put in different matchups. And he’s embraced everything that we’ve done to this point. I’ve loved working with him and I think he’s making some great progress, not just in this scheme, but I think as I’ve looked at him as a player, he’s sharpening his tools right now.”

Since joining the Giants prior to the 2016 season, Vernon has compiled 15 sacks. While the defender averaged more sacks during his final three seasons with the Dolphins, Lombardo believes the position change should boost the former third-rounder’s numbers.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • If the Seahawks want to push for a playoff spot next season, ESPN’s Brady Henderson believes five players will have to lead the way: quarterback Russell Wilson, free safety Earl Thomas, linebacker Bobby Wagner, defensive end Frank Clark, and receiver Doug Baldwin. Thomas is a particularly surprising inclusion considering his uncertain status for next year. However, consider the losses of Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, Thomas’ savvy could be particularly valuable to a younger Seahawks defense.
  • Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jenna Laine looked at the players who would be crucial to a Buccaneers playoff run: quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick, wideout Mike Evans, defensive tackle Vita Vea, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. The 6-foot-4, 347-pound Vea is of particular intrigue, as Tampa Bay will be eyeing match-ups with a handful of notable quarterbacks and running backs next season.
  • Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington says no one would be surprised if the Redskins add an offensive guard before the regular season begins. If their supplemental picks go as planned, the organization should be armed with 11 selections in next year’s draft, so the writer believes the team could bail on one of the picks for some reinforcement on the offensive line. Following an underwhelming season, guard Shawn Lauvao would probably be the current member of the line who is most at risk of losing his starting gig.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Jeffery, Redskins

Moving to a 3-4 defense, the Giants traded Jason Pierre-Paul to a team that uses a 4-3 scheme. But the Giants do not view Bradley Chubb‘s seemingly superior fit for a 4-3 look as a deal-breaker. New Giants DC James Bettcher doesn’t believe Chubb having played only in a 4-3 setup as enough of a deterrent for the team to automatically pass on him. However, Chubb is 6-foot-4 and 269 pounds, a large frame for an outside ‘backer.

Look at Markus Golden who came out of college in Missouri as a 4-3 defensive end who had his hand in the ground,” Bettcher said, via Tom Rock of Newsday. “Comes out and two years later has double-digit sacks in this scheme. You talk about Chandler Jones who was in New England as a 4-3 defensive end and came to this scheme. It’s just like anything else, there are new things you have to learn, but it’s still playing football. It’s still rushing off the edge.”

Of course, the Giants aren’t exactly going to say Chubb is out of the question for their scheme, since the N.C. State talent could entice a pass rush-seeking team to trade up. The perceived gap between Chubb and the rest of the edge-rushing class could create a market for the Giants’ No. 2 pick that goes beyond the quarterback position. But Bettcher at least is playing the part of a coach who does not believe that Chubb’s run as a 4-3 end will be too much of a deterrent for his 3-4 approach. Chubb visited the Giants on Thursday.

Here’s more out of the Big Apple, along with a couple of other NFC East cities.

  • A team that’s largely regarded linebacker as a second- or third-tier position for many years, the Giants have now committed a staggering amount to that position compared to how it was represented on the 2017 payroll. Former first-round pick Alec Ogletree, and his $10.5MM-per-year deal that ranks third among all off-ball ‘backers, is now in the fold. And, somewhat quietly, the Giants added outside linebacker Kareem Martin for $5MM per year. Last season’s Giants did not have close to that capital allocated to any of its linebackers. Big Blue’s linebacker spending is also spiking considerably as well because of Olivier Vernon‘s relocation to outside ‘backer, Rock writes. Vernon’s $17MM-AAV figure is second only to Von Miller at this position.
  • Out until at least training camp because of rotator cuff surgery, Alshon Jeffery was confronted with the possibility of this surgery occurring last summer and nullifying his 2017 season. Having just signed a one-year Eagles deal and eyeing a big payday, Jeffery did not think that arrangement was going to work for him. “I was like, ‘No, there’s no way you’re going to do that,” Jeffery said (via Les Bowen of Philly.com) of a 2017 surgery. “We got to figure out another situation.'” Despite playing through a significant shoulder malady, Jeffery caught 57 passes for 789 yards and nine touchdowns. He added three more TDs in the playoffs.
  • It’s not out of the question that 2018 is Josh Norman‘s last year with the Redskins, Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington writes. Although the Redskins would still have $6MM in dead money if they were to release Norman after this season, they’d create $8.5MM in cap space. Norman’s 2019 cap figure is $14.5MM. He remains the league’s highest-paid cornerback despite two free agency periods having passed since his Washington agreement. While it’s fairly early to navigate against the 2019 cap, Washington is projected to hold the second-lowest amount of cap space next year.

East Rumors: Williams, Patriots, JPP, Jets

Trent Williams has encountered a patella issue, one that caused him to briefly exit Monday night’s Redskins-Chiefs game. The Pro Bowl left tackle will not need surgery to correct the problem, but Williams is “week-to-week,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Washington has not ruled Williams out for its Week 6 game, per Rapoport. The eighth-year tackle underwent an MRI on Wednesday, and the exam ruled out a long-term injury. A near-future absence would obviously cause issues for the team. Swing tackle Ty Nsekhe is out after undergoing core muscle surgery, so the drop-off if Williams can’t go against the 49ers could be significant.

Here’s the latest from the Eastern divisions, shifting to New England.

  • Rob Gronkowski extended his streak of seasons without 16-game participation to six by missing Thursday night’s Patriots-Buccaneers tilt with a thigh injury, but the Pats expect their all-world tight end back by Week 6, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). The same goes for Rex Burkhead, per Schefter. Burkhead hasn’t played since Week 2, but the team is expecting its newly acquired dual-threat back to be available against the Jets next weekend.
  • Missing Thursday’s game will deprive Gronkowski of collecting the $10.75MM salary the Patriots set as his ceiling on the now-incentive-laden 2017 arrangement. By failing to play in 90 percent of the Pats’ snaps this season, Gronk is in danger of falling to the $8.75MM tier of his contract, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald notes (on Twitter). The 28-year-old tight end could still rise back to that top tier, but he’d have to earn first-team All-Pro honors. That’s obviously still in play for Gronkowski, a three-time All-Pro, but he will have to make it through most of the Pats’ remaining regular-season games to be strongly considered for such acclaim. He will need to play on 80 percent of New England’s snaps this season or total 1,000 receiving yards or 12 touchdowns to earn $8.75MM. The salary drops to $6.75MM if Gronkowski can’t meet one of those benchmarks.
  • A sprained shoulder has put Jason Pierre-Paul‘s Week 5 availability in question, but the Giants defensive end said this issue is not new for him. He intends to play against the Chargers, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post reports. JPP said he’s been dealing with shoulder problem for “a while.” Both Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon missed Thursday’s practice, and with Vernon leaving early with an ankle injury the past two weeks, Big Blue’s other starting defensive end is in danger of missing his first NFL game in a six-season career.
  • The Jets could be down nickel cornerback Juston Burris on Sunday after the No. 3 corner hurt his foot in practice, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. With fellow reserve corner Darryl Roberts unlikely to play in Cleveland, the Jets could be scrambling here if Burris can’t go. New York, though, still has veteran Marcus Williams in the event the younger talents can’t play behind Morris Claiborne or Buster Skrine. A former steady contributor on whom the Jets placed a second-round RFA tender, Williams has not played a defensive snap this season. Both Burris and Roberts have played 90.

NFC Notes: Huff, Eagles, 49ers, Giants

Wide receiver and kick returner Josh Huff, who was released today by the Eagles, issued the following statement to ESPN’s Adam Caplan: “First, I want to apologize to Mr. Lurie and his family, my coaches and teammates, and all Eagles fans. I’m sorry that any action by me brought negative light to this organization. I want to thank the Lurie Family, Howie, this community and the entire Eagles organization for the opportunity I’ve had for the past 3 years. Most important, I want to let the fans and community as a whole know that I understand the responsibility I have as a professional athlete, and I will take all measures necessary to correct mistakes I have made.”

More from the NFC:

  • Could 49ers head coach Chip Kelly reunite with Huff? Kelly previously coached Huff at Oregon and with the Eagles, but he says that he hasn’t gotten an opportunity to pore over the details of the wideout’s arrest. Kelly also hasn’t gotten to speak with GM Trent Baalke, who was on a scouting trip this week, as Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com writes. “I have no idea what happened,” Kelly said. “I haven’t followed any of it. I know he got arrested two days ago, but I haven’t followed any of it.” Ultimately, Kelly says it’s too soon to say whether he’d have interest in signing Huff.
  • Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon said Thursday that he’s “obviously not” satisfied with his production in Year 1 of the five-year, $85MM mega-deal he inked as a free agent in the offseason (via Tom Rock of Newsday). Vernon, whose contract includes $52MM in guarantees, has just one sack in seven games this season, though the ex-Dolphin has been playing with a hand injury. “I would like him to be 100 percent, but I am not so sure it is there right now,” said defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. To his credit, Vernon has played in just under 91 percent of the Giants’ defensive snaps this year. He also ranks a solidly above-average 19th among Pro Football Focus’ 111 qualified edge defenders in overall performance.
  • The NFL hit former 49ers defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey with a 10-game suspension on Thursday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). It’s unclear what led to the ban for Ramsey, who retired in July. The 49ers chose Ramsey in the seventh round of the 2014 draft out of Boston College, but he didn’t appear in a game in either of his two seasons with the club.
  • Saints first-round defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins looks poised to finally make his NFL debut this week.

More Reactions To Von Miller’s Extension

The Broncos and Von Miller finally agreed to an extension yesterday, with the new contract being worth $114.5MM over six seasons. We’ve already taken a look at some reactions to the contract, but let’s see what the Broncos organization had to say about the extension…

  • Executive VP of Football Operations/GM John Elway said Miller was rewarded for his past performance and his anticipated future production. “Von’s earned this contract not only for what he’s done in the past but for what we believe he’ll do in the future,” Elway told Aric DiLalla of DenverBroncos.com. “This was a long process that ended the way we all wanted—with Von being part of the Denver Broncos for many more years. Our team had a tremendous year last season, and the way Von performed the final few weeks was such a big part of our Super Bowl run. Going forward, we expect great things from Von not only on the field but with the responsibility he has as a leader on the team. I’m proud of how we’ve handled this situation and give credit to everyone on our staff who helped get this done.”
  • Head coach Gary Kubiak indicated that he was happy that the negotiations were now behind them. “I know this took a lot of hard work from John and Von to get this done, and we’re thrilled that Von is going to be a Bronco for a long time,” Kubiak told DiLalla. “I’ve known him since he was a kid in college. Most of all, I’m proud of how far Von’s come as both a person and a player. It’s a great day for him and the organization. We’re all excited to get back to work with Von as a leader of our team.”
  • Finally, Miller was thrilled with finally inking that extension. “I’m super happy and excited to be back with my teammates for the next six years,” he told DiLalla. “This is something I really wanted—to stay with the Denver Broncos. I am so appreciative and grateful for this opportunity. I want to thank Mr. Bowlen, Joe Ellis, John Elway and Coach Kubiak for making this possible. I’m also thankful for the way my teammates and our fans have supported me. I’m excited for the future and ready to get back to work.”
  • After looking through Miller’s new six-year contract, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com says (via Twitter) Olivier Vernon‘s five-year contract was the way to go. Fitzgerald understands the desire to get paid, but he believes these players are limiting themselves by playing for $18MM during the sixth year of the contract.

Giants Sign Olivier Vernon

THURSDAY, 2:50pm: The Giants have officially signed Vernon, the team announced today in a press release.

WEDNESDAY, 4:17pm: Vernon’s deal will pay him $85MM over five years with $52MM in guaranteed cash, per Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (on Twitter). That sum includes a whopping full guarantee of $40MM. Overall, it is the biggest deal ever for a defensive end, putting him ahead of Texans superstar J.J. Watt.

4:04pm: The Giants will sign Olivier Vernon, per Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (on Twitter). In terms of compensation, this will be the biggest defensive end deal in NFL history with the most guaranteed money, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets"<strong

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It’s a big day for the Big Blue defensive line as they have now landed both Vernon and Damon Harrison. Those moves, coupled with retaining Jason Pierre-Paul have bolstered their defensive front in a major way. Prior to the Vernon deal, the Giants were believed to have roughly $47MM in cap space.

As Jordan Raanan of the Star-Ledger (on Twitter) notes, the Giants had to outbid the Jaguars by a wide margin in order to secure Vernon’s services because there is no state income tax in Florida and the cost of living in the greater New York area is skyhigh. Ultimately, they ponied up the cash to get the deal done.

Ranked No. 1 on PFR’s list of free agents going into the 2016 league year, the 25-year-old Vernon was a highly-coveted commodity. After the Dolphins opted to sign Mario Williams to join an already high-paid defensive front that features Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh, it was clear that Miami would not be retaining him. The Giants and Jaguars both emerged as leading candidates to sign Vernon, but it was the G-Men who came away with (arguably) the offseason’s top free agent. Clearly, the Giants are determined to give defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo the best tools they possibly can, having also added cornerback Janoris Jenkins on Wednesday.

Vernon ranked third overall behind only Khalil Mack and Von Miller among edge defenders last season, according to Pro Football Focus, after amassing 7.5 sacks and 61 tackles. The former third-round pick has 29 career sacks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Sign Janoris Jenkins

THURSDAY, 1:52pm: The Giants’ signing of Jenkins is official, as Dan Salomone of Giants.com writes.

For a sneak peek at what Jenkins might look like in his new jersey, follow Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

WEDNESDAY, 9:39am: Jenkins is expected to get $29MM in fully guaranteed money, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (Twitter link).

9:29am: Jenkins’ five-year deal with the Giants is expected to be worth $62.5MM, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). That’s an annual average of $12.5MM.

Janoris Jenkins/Giants Uniform (Vertical)

Photo courtesy of @ProFootballRumors on Instagram

6:48am: The Giants are prepared to sign cornerback Janoris Jenkins when the free agent market officially opens later today, reports Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (Twitter link). According to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link), Jenkins’ new contract is expected to be worth in excess of $12MM per year.

Jenkins, 27, has spent the first four years of his career with the Rams since being selected by the team with the 39th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Since entering the league, Jenkins has been a starter at cornerback in St. Louis, picking up a total of 10 career interceptions, including five for touchdowns. However, it appears he won’t join the team in Los Angeles.

Prior to the franchise-tag deadline, the Rams had been mulling over whether to use their tag on Jenkins or fellow cornerback Trumaine Johnson. The club ultimately opted to lock up Johnson with the non-exclusive franchise tag, clearing the path for Jenkins to reach the open market.

While the Rams did want to keep Jenkins, negotiations between the two sides didn’t appear to progress the way the four-year veteran anticipated. After a report surfaced suggesting that Jenkins had declined a five-year offer worth about $45MM, the former second-round pick changed agents, and tweeted. “Total disrespect when u held down one side all 4 years and force the ball the other way.. #ThanksButNoThanks.”

For the Giants, Jenkins looks poised to team with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the secondary, suggesting free agent corner Prince Amukamara likely won’t be back in New York.

According to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter links), the Giants may be targeting other big-name free agents on the defensive side of the ball. Graziano reports that Big Blue may make a run at defensive end Olivier Vernon, and adds that the team has also expressed interest in Jenkins’ former teammate, safety Rodney McLeod.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Contract Details: Vernon, Jenkins, Mack

Here are some of the latest details on many recent agreed-upon and signed contracts from out of the NFC (all links via Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post unless otherwise indicated)…

NFC East:

  • Olivier Vernon, DE (Giants): Five years, $85MM. $52.5MM guaranteed. $20MM signing bonus. $7MM roster bonus due on fifth day of 2016 league year (Twitter links).
  • Janoris Jenkins, CB (Giants): Five years, $62.5MM. $28.8MM guaranteed. $10MM signing bonus. $1.4MM base salary in 2016 (Twitter link).
  • Brandon Brooks, G (Eagles): Five years, $40MM. $21MM guaranteed. $11MM signing bonus. $1MM base salary in 2016 and $5MM base salary in 2017 fully guaranteed (Twitter link).
  • Chase Daniel, QB (Eagles): Three years, $21MM base value. $36MM max value. $3MM signing bonus. $3MM roster bonus due on March 14. $3MM base escalators in 2017 and 2018 (Twitter link).
  • Colt McCoy, QB (Washington): Three years, $9MM base value. Third year can be voided based on playing time. $1.8MM signing bonus. $1MM annually in playing-time incentives (Twitter link).
  • Ron Brooks, CB (Eagles): Three years, $5.5MM. $1.55MM guaranteed. $750K signing bonus (Twitter link).

NFC South:

NFC North:

  • Marvin Jones, WR (Lions): Five years, $40MM. $20MM guaranteed. $8MM signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Alex Boone, G (Vikings): Four years, $26.8MM. $10MM guaranteed. Annual $100K workout bonus (Twitter link).
  • Danny Trevathan, LB (Bears): Four years, $24.5MM. $12MM guaranteed. $5MM signing bonus. $3.5MM roster bonus due on March 14 (Twitter link).
  • Michael Griffin, S (Vikings): One year, $2.5MM. $250K signing bonus. $500K of $1.65MM base salary guaranteed. Up to $500K in playing-time incentives (Twitter links).
  • Tavon Wilson, S (Lions): Two years, $2.2MM. $500K signing bonus. Up to $500K in annual playing-time incentives (Twitter link).

NFC West:

  • Mark Barron, OLB (Rams): Five years, $45MM. $20MM guaranteed. $5MM signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • William Hayes, DE (Rams): Three years, $17.5MM. $10MM guaranteed. $4MM roster bonus due on March 13 (Twitter link).
  • Tyvon Branch, S (Cardinals): Two years, $8MM. $1MM signing bonus. $1.75MM roster bonus in 2016, $1MM roster bonus in 2017 (Twitter link).
  • Tim Barnes, C (Rams): Two years, $5.6MM. $2.5MM guaranteed. $1.25MM roster bonus due in four days. $750K roster bonus due on third day of 2017 league year guaranteed for injury, skill; becomes fully guaranteed if on roster June 17. Up to $1MM in annual playing-time incentives. $250K annual Pro Bowl incentive (all Twitter links).
  • Brian Quick, WR (Rams): One year, $1.75MM. $1.5MM guaranteed ($1.25MM bas salary, $250K roster bonus due on March 15). $2MM stats incentive (Twitter link).

Giants, Jags Frontrunners For Olivier Vernon

Now that Olivier Vernon‘s a full-fledged UFA after the Dolphins rescinded his transition tag, the Giants and Jaguars are leading the sweepstakes for the defensive end’s services, Jeff Darlington of NFL.com tweets.

There figures to be more teams involved in pursing the dynamic defender coming off a strong contract year, but these two are out in front, per Darlington.

Ranked No. 1 on PFR’s list of free agents going into the 2016 league year, the 25-year-old Vernon is now a coveted commodity by other suitors after the Dolphins opted to sign Mario Williams to join an already high-paid defensive front that features Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh.

The Jaguars’ interest comes as no surprise given their league-high cap space, which currently sits at $72.2MM (per OverTheCap), but Jacksonville just agreed to sign defensive end/tackle hybrid Malik Jackson to a deal worth upwards of $85.5MM. Jacksonville also employs Jared Odrick, whom it pried from the Dolphins last year. Jackson and Odrick are currently the Jags’ top two highest-paid players.

The Giants, who as of now possess $47.02MM of cap space, are bolstering their defensive front aggressively as well, reaching agreements to keep Jason Pierre-Paul with the team and Damon Harrison in New York.

This would give the Jags some serious capital allocated toward its defensive front, which houses rookie-contract stalwart Sen’Derrick Marks.

Vernon ranked third overall behind only Khalil Mack and Von Miller among edge defenders last season, according to Pro Football Focus, after amassing 7.5 sacks and 61 tackles. The former third-round pick has 29 career sacks.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images

Dolphins Rescind Olivier Vernon’s Transition Tag

The Dolphins have pulled the transition tag from defensive end Olivier Vernon, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The team will no longer have the right of first refusal on Vernon, allowing him to become a true unrestricted free agent.Olivier Vernon

The move comes in the wake of the Dolphins’ signing of defensive end Mario Williams. Assuming the team intends to keep Cameron Wake as well, as has been reported, it didn’t make sense to carry all three defensive ends on significant contracts, making Vernon – and his $12.734MM transition tag – the odd man out.

In addition to clearing more than $12MM from their cap, the Dolphins now assure that they’ll receive a compensatory pick in 2017 for Vernon. Depending on the sort of contract he signs, Miami could be in line for a pick as high as a third-rounder as compensation for losing the young defensive end.

Vernon, 25, is coming off a season in which he recorded 7.5 sacks to go along with 61 tackles. While his counting stats weren’t eye-popping, Vernon ranked as the league’s third-best edge defender according to Pro Football Focus’ grades, behind only Khalil Mack and Von Miller.

In his first four seasons in the NFL, Vernon has notched a total of 29 sacks, including a career-best 11.5 in 2013. Since he won’t turn 26 until October, the former third-round pick should have plenty of prime seasons left, which will make him a very appealing target for some of the many NFL teams in need of pass-rush help. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com suggests (via Twitter) that the Giants, Falcons, Jaguars, and Cardinals are among the teams “very interested” in pass rushers, making them potential suitors for Vernon.

Teams aren’t allowed to negotiate with the representatives for transition players during the legal tampering period, so now that Vernon’s tag has been lifted, his reps can begin seeking out a new deal for their client.

Vernon ranked as the top free agent in our top 50 list.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.