Pat McAfee

Extra Points: Chiefs, Colts, Garoppolo, Manziel

Derrick Johnson is optimistic he’ll be ready to suit up for Chiefs training camp in July, Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star reports. The former All-Pro is coming off his second torn Achilles’ tendon in three years and will turn 35 this year. Still, the inside linebacker’s return revitalized the 2015 Kansas City defense, and the Chiefs missed his presence against the Steelers after he went down in December. Johnson plans to play out the final two years of the three-year, $21MM deal he signed last year.

I’m trying to win the Super Bowl, so my obligation is two more years and I want to do everything I can to make an impact to help [Chiefs chairman] Clark Hunt and the people that brought me here to win a Super Bowl,” Johnson said, via Paylor. “I’m not that guy trying to hold on. I really want to make an impact. If I see I’m hurting the team, that’s when I’ll have to think like ‘OK, that’s it.”

The Chiefs held out several starters in their previous training camp, so Johnson surmounting a second Achilles malady to suit up by July could be pushing it.

Let’s take a look at the latest from around the league on Super Bowl eve.

  • Pat McAfee‘s early retirement leaves the Colts without the NFL’s yards-per-punt leader in 2016. But the team could ask for $400K of the retired punter’s $1MM signing bonus he received as part of a five-year, $14.5MM contract, Mike Wells of ESPN.com notes. This would be somewhat interesting if they did go after that rather modest sum, considering, as Wells notes, the Seahawks didn’t pursue Marshawn Lynch‘s $5MM bonus when he retired last year. The Colts clear $2.8MM in cap space in 2017 and $2.7MM in ’18 because of McAfee’s retirement. The Colts haven’t placed McAfee on the reserve/retired list because the 29-year-old specialist hasn’t submitted retirement papers yet.
  • A Jimmy Garoppolo trade would involve the passer agreeing to a new contract, CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora tweets in an effort to remind that the backup has some leverage here. The Browns and Bears have been pondering Garoppolo pursuits. The Patriots‘ backup quarterback has one season remaining on his deal.
  • Johnny Manziel‘s comeback has elicited disparate responses from NFL personnel men. “I don’t think anyone will touch him,” one personnel man told Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. An anonymous GM believes one team will give the embattled quarterback a chance. Another GM added the return bid would be “unlikely, but you never know. It would be tough as a starter. Quality backup level.” Manziel plans to submit to drug testing before re-entering the league.
  • Former Jaguars linebackers coach Robert Saleh could land with the 49ers or Chargers, a source tells Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Saleh worked under Gus Bradley dating back to the pair’s years with the Texans, who also employed Kyle Shanahan during Saleh’s stay in Houston.
  • The Chiefs are looking to upgrade at quarterback after a loss in the divisional round for a second straight season.

Colts Punter Pat McAfee Retires

One of the most colorful personalities in the game is calling it quits. Punter Pat McAfee announced early Thursday morning that he is walking away from the sport after eight years in the NFL. Pat McAfee (vertical)

In a lengthy farewell letter posted to Twitter, McAfee said that he spoke with Colts owner Jim Irsay at length about his future this week and although Irsay wanted him to continue playing, he is supportive of his decision. The charismatic punter says he will now join Barstool Sports full-time as a personality while continuing to live in Indianapolis.

From a talent standpoint, McAfee feels that he could have continued punting for “a few more years,” but he wasn’t sure if he could continue to boot balls at a high level with his attention split between different interests. McAfee, 29, leaves the game with two Pro Bowl selections and a highlight reel full of memorable celebrations, including his Conor McGregor strut. We wish McAfee the best in retirement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Notable 2017 Pro Bowl Incentives/Escalators

The NFL announced the 2017 Pro Bowl rosters earlier tonight, and aside from determining which players will spend a week in Orlando early next year, the rosters also dictate several important bonuses and/or contract escalators for individual players. Former NFL agent and current CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry has rounded up the notable incentives earned tonight, and we’ll pass those along below. As Corry notes (Twitter links), only first ballot Pro Bowlers who actually participate in the game (unless injured or playing in the Super Bowl) can earn bonuses, which are typically paid out by the end of March.

Here are the notable Pro Bowl bonuses and escalators that were preliminarily netted this evening (all links to Corry’s Twitter):

Incentives

  • Raiders G Kelechi Osemele, $300K (link): Under general manager Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders have employed what is often referred to as an “all cash” salary cap management system, wherein prorated signing bonuses are rarely used while base salary guarantees, roster bonuses, and — as evidenced by the number of Oakland players on this list — incentive clauses are heavily employed. Osemele, the league’s highest-paid interior offensive lineman, is signed through 2020 with cap charges north of $10MM in each season.
  • Colts P Pat McAfee, $250K (link): McAfee, who signed a five-year extension with the Colts in 2014, ranks third in the NFL in net punting average at 42.8 yards. The Indy special teams unit ranks fourth in the league in DVOA, while McAfee himself has been worth four points of field position on punts, third-best in the AFC.
  • Raiders S Reggie Nelson, $250K (link): Nelson sat on the free agent market until April, but has rewarded the Raiders for signing him by earning his second consecutive Pro Bowl season. The 33-year-old Nelson, who’s posted four interceptions after leading the NFL with eight picks in 2015, is in the middle of a two-year, $8.5MM deal.
  • Raiders T Donald Penn, $200K (link): Penn is the definition of stability, as the veteran left tackle hasn’t missed a game since becoming a starter during his rookie season in 2007. Penn signed a two-year, $11.9MM contract with the Raiders this spring, and is set to count $6.1MM against Oakland’s cap in 2017.
  • Raiders C Rodney Hudson, $100K (link): The third member of the Raiders’ offensive line to earn a Pro Bowl bonus, Hudson is the fourth-highest paid center in the league, earning $8.9MM annually. The No. 4 center in the NFL this year according to Pro Football Focus, Hudson is signed through the 2019 campaign.
  • Titans RB DeMarco Murray, $100K (link): After a putrid season in Philadelphia during which he barely topped 700 yards rushing, Murray has rebounded since being traded to the Titans, and is currently second in the league with 1.224 yards on the ground. He’s scored nine rushing touchdowns, and has added three more scores thorugh the air.

Escalators

  • Browns T Joe Thomas, $1.5MM 2017 roster bonus escalator (link): Thomas is due a roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year, and that bonus’ value has now increased from $1MM to $2.5MM. That bonus could factor in (in a minimal way) to any trade talks the Browns might have with other clubs, but Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson has been adamant that the Browns won’t deal Thomas.
  • Titans LB Brian Orakpo, $200K 2017 base salary escalator (link): Orakpo’s 2017 base salary will increase to $5.95MM after he was selected to the Pro Bowl and played in more than 65% of the Titans’ defensive snaps. Orakpo, who has posted 11 sacks during his second season with Tennessee, is signed through 2018.
  • Titans DT Jurrell Casey, $100K 2017 base salary escalator (link): Casey, 27, is arguably one of the more underpaid defenders in the league, as he’s due only $36MM from 2014-2018. His 2017 base salary will now increase to $5.9MM in 2017, and he’s also due a $200K roster bonus next spring.

South Notes: McAfee, Short, Freeney, Miller

Colts punter Pat McAfee underwent offseason surgery on his non-kicking knee, as he explained to WFNI-AM this week“I had surgery like six weeks ago, seven weeks ago on my left knee to clean it up,” McAfee said. “The first couple weeks of rehab were a little tough, but I’m on the back end of it right now.” McAfee, who has been named a first-team All Pro in each of the last two season, expects to be fully healthy by the time training camp rolls around.

Here’s more on the NFL’s two South divisions…

  • Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was noncommittal when asked whether he thought Kawann Short would be at minicamp next week, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Short is currently sitting out OTAs in the hopes of hammering out a new deal. Carolina was thought to be interested in working out an extension, but talks are reportedly on hold for the moment.
  • On Tuesday morning, the Falcons made a handful of roster moves that left them with 89 players on the 90-man roster. When asked by a reader to guess whom they may be holding a roster spot for, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter) wondered aloud if it could be veteran Dwight Freeney, who visited the Falcons last month. Head coach Dan Quinn said that his club wouldn’t be signing the free agent edge rusher, at least right now.
  • While the rest of the clubs in the AFC South made a flurry of moves, the Colts stayed quiet, re-signing tight end Dwayne Allen and kicker Adam Vinatieri while bringing in free agent cornerback Patrick Robinson. The past few months were among the least exciting of the Ryan Grigson era, and according to Mike Wells of ESPN.com, that was by design.
  • Offseason addition Lamar Miller will have a diverse role with the Texans, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. Miller, who inked a four-year, $26MM deal with $14MM guaranteed, averaged only 15 total touches per game in Miami. Now, he figures to play a versatile role as both an inside and outside running presence behind a more talented offensive line.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Examining Notable Pro Bowlers’ Contracts

The NFL announced its Pro Bowl rosters on Tuesday night, a collection of 42 offensive players, 36 defenders, and eight special teams players. The list features the usual suspects such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers, as well as new faces like Le’Veon Bell, T.Y. Hilton, and Chris Harris, and can be viewed in full right here (PDF link).

Among the 86 players initially selected to appear in the game, several have signed new contracts in 2014, many more will be eligible for new deals in 2015, and others will receive a bump in pay based on their Pro Bowl nods. Here’s a breakdown of the Pro Bowl players with notable contract situations:

Recently signed or extended:

Eligible for free agency in 2015:

Received Pro Bowl bonuses:

(via Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap)

Perhaps the most interesting – or at least unusual – takeaway from this data is the abundance of cornerbacks on the first list. In fact, all eight cornerbacks initially named as Pro Bowlers (Davis, Grimes, Haden, Harris, Peterson, Revis, Sherman, and Talib) have signed new contracts, either extensions or free agent deals, since March. Rival teams hoping to get their hands on a Pro Bowl corner this offseason will have to focus on Revis — he’s the only one of the eight who can reasonably be expected to become available within the next few months, due to the structure of his contract with the Pats.

Data from Over the Cap was used in the creation of this post.

AFC South Notes: Jaguars, Texans, McAfee

The Jaguars drafted receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson to complement Cecil Shorts, but it was the unheralded Allen Hurns who made waves at minicamp, writes Mike Sando for ESPN Insider (subscription required). Hurns, who went undrafted out of Miami, saw quite a few snaps during practice sessions and made the most of them, even earning praise from quarterback Chad Henne. By signing with Jacksonville, Hurns reunites with offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, who served in the same capacity with the Hurricanes from from 2011-2012.

  • Speaking of Shorts, he is one of many Jaguars veterans who feels that the team will take a step forward in 2014, per John Oehser of Jaguars.com. “I believe we’ve gotten better from where we were last year. I believe we’re way ahead of where we were last year,” said Shorts. “…Last year, we were about learning the plays and trying to figure out what to do…Now, we have the same playbook. Now, we understand everything.”
  • In a piece kicking off his Best and Worst Contracts series, Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap examines the Texans roster, labeling Andre Johnson as the player on the most team-friendly deal, and Arian Foster as having the least favorable contract from management’s perspective.
  • New Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel knows it will be a challenge to repair a unit that struggled last season, but he tells ESPN.com’s Tania Ganguli that he doesn’t think the 2013 team was lacking effort. “…[E]veryone thinks when you are 2-14 that you are no good,” said Crennel. “Your record is what it is, but from what I saw on tape, I saw guys hustling, I saw guys giving effort and guys being in the game in the fourth quarter. That indicated to me that maybe they weren’t that far away.” Houston ranked 18th in DVOA and forced a league-low 11 turnovers in 2013.
  • Colts punter Pat McAfee wants to add another job title to his résumé — placekicker. He hit several attempts from over 60 yards during minicamp, writes Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis, but the 27-year-old doesn’t expect to get a chance at the kicking job any time soon, what with the presence of veteran Adam Vinatieri on the roster. Handing the two duties to a single player would be an interesting idea, though, as it would free up an active roster spot on gameday.

Pat McAfee, Colts Agree To Five-Year Deal

9:21am: McAfee’s five-year deal will be worth $14MM, with $5MM in guaranteed money, reports Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

8:52am: Pat McAfee will continue booming punts downfield in Indianapolis in 2014 and beyond. The veteran punter announced today on NFL Network that he and the Colts have agreed to terms on a new five-year contract that will keep him off the free agent market (Twitter link).

McAfee, who has been the Colts’ full-time punter since the team selected him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft, averaged 46.0 yards per punt in 76 attempts last season, while also handling kickoffs for the team. According to Pro Football Focus’ metrics (subscription required), only Shane Lechler of the Raiders and Johnny Hekker of the Rams ranked ahead of McAfee among punters in 2013. Outside of a down year in 2010, McAfee has placed among the top eight punters every year since his rookie season, according to PFF.

With McAfee locked up, the Colts will also have to address the other half of their kicking team, as Adam Vinatieri is headed for unrestricted free agency. The NFL’s leading active scorer said in January that he isn’t considering retiring and would “love” to re-sign in Indianapolis.