PFR Originals

Trade Candidate: Jets S Marcus Maye

Now in his fifth pro season, Marcus Maye stands as the Jets’ longest-tenured player. But, with the NFL’s November 2 trade deadline fast approaching, that could all change in the coming days.

The Jets slapped Maye with the franchise tag earlier this offseason, but the two sides couldn’t come to terms on an extension. Both sides spent the summer saying all the right things. Jets GM Joe Douglas told reporters that be would work towards long-term deal with the young safety. Maye, meanwhile, said he’d focus on football and worry about negotiations later.

Once [I was tagged], I just put it to the side and got back to the basics of playing football,” he said (via the team website). “Once I get on the grass I never worry about anything else.”

Winning games is first, that’s what you play the game for. Also taking care of your family and making sure you’re set up for the future. Control the controllables. If you have no control over something, there’s no point in getting all upset. If you’re not here to win games, then what are you doing this for?”

Things have changed since then. For starters, Maye suffered an ankle injury in September that still has him on the sidelines. Then, in early October, we learned that the 28-year-old has been charged with a DUI and a pair of misdemeanors. The incident occurred in February; the Jets were not aware of the incident until it went public.

Maye’s agent recently tweeted that his client will be ready to play by the trade deadline, a clear attempt to drum up interest. His DUI and failure to notify the Jets may be a red flag for clubs, however. Ditto for his salary — any club acquiring him would have to pay him the prorated portion of his $10.6MM salary. And, of course, he’d only be a rental.

Still, Maye offers upside. The former second-rounder has started in each of his 57 games in the NFL, including 32-straight starts between 2019 and 2020. Last year, he finished with a career-high 88 stops to go along with two sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Those credentials could appeal to contenders like the Buccaneers and Rams, as ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler suggested this week. Old pal Todd Bowles knows Maye’s capabilities first-hand and could use some support with Sean Murphy-Bunting and Antoine Winfield Jr. sidelined. The Rams, meanwhile, would love the extra firepower as they chase the Cardinals. Besides, it’d be an opportunity to reunite Maye with Jalen Ramsey, bolstering a secondary that has allowed 271 passing yards per contest.

There are plenty of possibilities for the Jets and Maye. Right now, there’s only one that seems unlikely – a second franchise tag in the spring for approximately $12MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Bills Trade Marshawn Lynch To Seahawks

On this date in 2010, the Bills and Seahawks pulled off a blockbuster midseason trade. For the price of a 2011 fourth-round pick and a conditional 2012 draft pick, the Bills said farewell to Marshawn Lynch

Lynch’s tenure in Buffalo altered between jaw-dropping and headache-inducing for the front office. The running back topped 1,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons and earned his first career Pro Bowl nod in 2008. Meanwhile, his off-the-field trouble was cause for concern. In the summer of 2008, Lynch admitted to striking a female pedestrian with his car and leaving the scene. In the following spring, Los Angeles cops found a semiautomatic handgun in his vehicle.

The former first-round pick seemed to be back on track early in the 2010 season, having just wrestled the starting job back from Fred Jackson. Still, the phone lines were open in Buffalo, and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll pounced on the opportunity to add him to the backfield.

We’re going to bring him in to play a lot,” Carroll said. “We’ll wait and see when we get him here, but we’re bringing him in here to play a bunch.”

The trade worked out incredibly well for the Seahawks, as Lynch took his game to a new level in Seattle and became the engine of the offense for their Super Bowl winning team. He went to four Pro Bowls with the Seahawks and was twice named an All-Pro

Lynch announced his retirement after the 2015 season, but returned after one year. The Seahawks traded him to the Raiders, where Lynch averaged 4.3 yards per carry for his hometown team. He circled back to Seattle in late 2019, scoring four touchdowns across one regular season game and two playoff contests. Lynch, 35, is probably retired for good, though he did discuss a deal with the Buccaneers earlier this year.

This Date In Transactions History: Albert Haynesworth Suspended Five Games

On this date 16 years ago, Albert Haynesworth was slapped with a historic ban. On October 2nd, 2006, the Titans defensive tackle was suspended five games without pay stemming from an on-field incident.

That fracas happened a day earlier in a contest between Tennessee and Dallas. The Cowboys pranced into the end zone early in the third quarter, and Dallas center Andre Gurode fell to the ground during the play. The offensive lineman’s helmet was somehow removed from his head; some pundits assumed the helmet just fell off, while others suggested that Haynesworth actually removed it from his opponent’s head. Either way, the Titans defensive tackle attempted to stomp on Gurode’s head (and missed) before landing a brutal shot.

The stomp caused a wound on Gurode’s forehead, with Haynesworth’s foot just barely missing the offensive lineman’s eye. Gurode later needed 30 stitches, but the injury didn’t force him to miss any time. In fact, he ended up playing all 16 games that season en route to his first of five-straight Pro Bowl appearances.

Shockingly, the stomp only warranted a 15-yard penalty. However, Haynesworth didn’t react all that well to the call; he slammed his helmet on the ground, leading to another 15-yard penalty and his ejection from the game.

Naturally, the stomp was condemned around the NFL. Haynesworth himself seemed to have some remorse for the move.

“For what I did, whatever they give me, I deserve it. I did it, and it’s wrong,” Haynesworth said (via ESPN.com). “I let my team down. I’m not saying that I’m the heart of this team, but I definitely let the team down.”

It didn’t take long for the NFL to hit the Titans defensive lineman with a ban. The next day, Haynesworth was slapped with a five-game suspension. At the time, it was the league’s longest suspension stemming from an on-field incident, surpassing the two-game ban that Packers defensive tackle Charles Martin earned in 1986 for slamming Bears quarterback Jim McMahon to the ground (and since surpassed by Vontaze Burfict for repeated helmet-to-helmet violations in 2019). The suspension ended up costing Haynesworth around $190K (based on his $646K base salary).

“There is absolutely no place in the game, or anywhere else, for the inexcusable action that occurred in yesterday’s Titans-Cowboys game,” new NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at the time.

While the length of Haynesworth’s suspension was basically unprecedented, some pundits believed he got off easy. According to ESPN, the Nashville police and the district attorney even contacted the Cowboys’ general counsel to offer “their assistance to Gurode in prosecuting Haynesworth.” There were even rumors that the move could have cost Haynesworth his job in Tennessee, as Titans head coach Jess Fisher indicated that the defensive lineman may have played his final game for the organization.

None of that ended up coming to fruition. Haynesworth served his suspension, and he was activated when first eligible. He didn’t start his first game back, but he started the final six games of the Titans season. The defensive tackle earned All-Pro honors in each of the next two years before inking a massive seven-year, $100MM deal with Washington. That contract ended up being a bust, and he lasted only two years with his new squad. Both the Patriots and Buccaneers were willing to take him on during the 2011 campaign, but the player’s reputation was already tarnished. 2011 proved to be the final season of his career.

Fortunately, this story has a somewhat happy ending thanks to Gurode. When Haynesworth landed in a hospital in 2019 due to a kidney issue, Gurode reached out to the defensive lineman to give him his best wishes. Haynesworth somewhat made amends when the two were both named to Pro Bowls, and the former Cowboys offensive lineman says he now takes the incident in stride.

“I want [Albert] to be O.K.,” he told Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop. “I’ve forgiven him…Most people tend to think that football players are gladiators with no feelings. We’ve all got scars. I’m going to have to explain that moment to my grandkids. I want them to know strength came from my not reacting.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Waiver Priority For Week 4

Starting today, the NFL’s waiver claim order will be reflective of 2021 records, rather than 2020, as ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets. As is the case with the NFL Draft, the order of priority is inverted based on win/loss record.

[RELATED: The NFL’s Waiver System, Explained]

In cases of ties – and there are many at this stage of the season – they are broken by the cumulative record of the team’s previous opponents. For example, the Jaguars and Jets’ (0-3) opponents have a combined record of 7-2; they have priority over the Colts and Lions, whose opponents have a combined record of 6-3. If two teams with the same record, and same opponent record, happen to claim the same player (as would be the case with the Jaguars/Jets, Colts/Lions, and so on), the dispute is settled with a coin toss.

With that in mind, here’s the full rundown of every team’s current waiver priority as we get set for Week 4:

  • T-1. Jaguars
  • T-1. Jets
  • T-3. Colts
  • T-3. Lions
  • 5. Giants
  • T-6. Bears
  • T-6. Steelers
  • T-8: Chiefs
  • T-8: Dolphins
  • T-8: Vikings
  • T-11: Eagles
  • T-11: Texans
  • 13: Washington Football Team
  • T-14: Falcons
  • T-14: Patriots
  • T-14: Seahawks
  • T-17: Buccaneers
  • T-17: Saints
  • 19: Cowboys
  • T-20: Chargers
  • T-20: Packers
  • T-20: Ravens
  • T-20: Titans
  • T-24: 49ers
  • T-24: Bills
  • T-24: Bengals
  • T-24: Browns
  • 28: Raiders
  • T-29: Cardinals
  • T-29: Panthers
  • T-29: Rams
  • 32: Broncos

This Date In Transactions History: Chargers’ Melvin Gordon Ends Holdout

More often than not, NFL stars tend to wrap their holdouts in late August. That’s just enough time to drum up leverage, potentially land a new contract, and suit up for the season opener in September. That wasn’t the case for Melvin Gordon in 2019. Two years ago today, Gordon ended his holdout after missing the entire offseason program and multiple weeks of action.

The running back was set to enter his fifth-year option season and wanted a lucrative new deal to put among the highest-paid players at his position. In the four years prior, Gordon averaged 907 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground plus 46 catches, 395 yards, and three scores through the air. The Wisconsin product was named to the Pro Bowl in both 2016 and 2018, so he clearly had a case.

Gordon’s holdout was viewed as unlikely to stretch the entire season. Per league rules, Gordon had to report before Week 10 in order to qualify for free agency the following year. Still, Le’Veon Bell‘s 2018 saga with the Steelers had everyone on edge. For weeks, the word was that Gordon would probably cut it close by showing up at the halfway point of the year.

The star running back didn’t go quite that far. He didn’t dress for Week 4, but the Chargers put him back in the lineup for Week 5. Unfortunately, the Chargers still went 3-9 with Gordon on the field and finished the year 5-11. Gordon’s stats suffered too. He averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, one of the worst showings of his career.

On the plus side, he stayed healthy throughout the three-quarters of a season, putting him in line for a decent payday with the Broncos. Gordon’s two-year, $16MM deal didn’t quite meet his expectations, but he still got $13.5MM guaranteed. Now, Gordon’s in his walk year once again. This time around, he’s on pace for a better platform year. Gordon averaged 5.5 yards per carry in the Broncos’ first two contests and notched his 47th career TD earlier today against the Jets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Bills, Panthers Pull Off September Trade

On this date in 2018, we got a rare September trade. On September 25, 2018, the Bills sent offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse to the Panthers. In exchange, Buffalo received a conditional 2021 seventh-round pick.

Newhouse started 31 of 47 games for the Packers through his first three seasons in the NFL, but by the time 2018 came around, Newhouse had struggled to hold a steady gig. Still, despite brief stints with the Bengals, Giants, and Raiders, the versatile lineman found a way to stick in the lineup. This included a 2017 campaign where he started each of his 14 games in Oakland.

So, while the Bills had some depth on the offensive line, Newhouse’s ability to play both tackle and guard made him a natural target once he was let go by the Raiders. During the 2018 offseason, Newhouse joined Buffalo on a one-year deal. It looked like Newhouse had carved out a role following the trade of Cordy Glenn and the departure of Seantrel Henderson. However, through the first few weeks of the season, the offensive lineman didn’t do much behind starters Dion Dawkins and Jordan Mills. So, on this date in 2018, the Bills decided to cut their losses and move on from the veteran, shipping him off to Carolina.

Carolina also seemed to value Newhouse’s versatility, except they had a depleted depth chart and needed the veteran to play. With Daryl Williams and Matt Kalil sidelined. the hope was that their acquisition would serve as a dependable backup and fill-in behind Taylor Moton and Amini Silatolu. Newhouse ended up seeing the field for 11 games (two starts) for his new team, and after seeing time on only 14 snaps in three games with Buffalo, he got into 197 snaps with the Panthers.

The Panthers didn’t qualify for the playoffs, and Newhouse decided to move on from the organization in 2019 as he pursued a ring. He signed with the Saints during the offseason, but he didn’t make it to the regular season. He ended up spending much of the 2019 campaign with the Patriots, getting into 15 games with nine starts. However, New England was ousted in the first round. Newhouse spent the 2020 campaign with the Titans, getting into only four games.

From Buffalo’s perspective, the trade was a mixed bag. The positive: the team quickly signed Jeremiah Sirles to take Newhouse’s spot on the roster, and he ended up getting into only 12 games (with five starts) for Buffalo. The negative: while the Bills ended up receiving that conditional seventh-round pick from the Panthers, they didn’t do much with it. They used the pick on Texas Tech offensive lineman Jack Anderson, but the rookie ended up getting waived by the team and landing on their practice squad. He was snagged by the Eagles earlier this week.

It’s hard to expect a whole lot from a September trade, and in hindsight, this trade really didn’t provide much intrigue for either side. Still, you’ve got to give credit to both squads for slightly shaking up their squads so early in the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Jalen Ramsey Requests Trade

The Jalen Ramsey saga in Jacksonville started in earnest on this date in 2019. On September 16, 2019, the Jaguars star cornerback requested a trade.

Before we discuss the trade demand, let’s review a bit. The fifth-overall selection in the 2016 draft quickly emerged as a star in Jacksonville. Following a rookie campaign that saw him earn PFWA All-Rookie Team honors, Ramsey took it to another level in 2017, earning a first-team All-Pro nod after finishing with 63 tackles, 17 passes defended, and four interceptions. Ramsey made his second-straight Pro Bowl in 2018, cementing himself as one of the league’s top defensive backs.

However, things weren’t especially rosy in Jacksonville. First, there was the 2018 team-imposed suspension. Then, following that 2018 campaign, the two sides started firing shots regarding an extension; Ramsey said he wanted a new deal, the Jaguars said “nah, not right now,” and then Ramsey warned that he wasn’t going to give any future discounts. While the cornerback was locked in through 2020 after the Jaguars picked up his fifth-year option, the cornerback started floating out potential suitors as early as August 2019.

Then came the bombshell. On September 16, 2019, Ramsey officially requested a trade from the Jaguars. While the defensive back was still upset about his lack of an extension, he apparently focused his anger on the coaching staff. Tensions reportedly boiled over between Ramsey and head coach Doug Marrone, as the player wanted to play man-to-man vs. the Jaguars’ preferred zone scheme. So, with Ramsey playing in an undesirable system on a rookie contract, he decided to ask out.

It sounded like a trade wouldn’t take too long to pull off. The Jaguars were open to trading their star defensive back, although they were requesting a bounty in return. A number of teams were naturally connected to Ramsey, with one report literally indicating that every team was interested.

There was little progress the week following the trade request. And there was little progress after that. At one point, Jaguars owner Shad Khan revealed that he was willing to give Ramsey a record-breaking contract, which was either a last-ditch effort to keep the player in Jacksonville or a last-ditch effort to save face. Ramsey temporarily continued playing for Jacksonville, but he eventually left the team to attend the birth of his daughter. Ramsey wouldn’t play for the Jaguars again. The team continued to hold out hope that Ramsey would change his mind, and the cornerback did eventually return to practice, but the organization finally found a trade partner for the disgruntled star.

On October 15, almost a month following the request, the Jaguars shipped Ramsey to the Rams. In exchange, Jacksonville received a 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick.

Things ended up working out for Ramsey. He eventually got a hefty five-year, $105MM extension ($71.2MM guaranteed) from the Rams, and he earned a Pro Bowl nod and a first-team All-Pro selection during his first full season in Los Angeles.

It remains to be seen if the deal will work out for the Jaguars. 2020 first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson had an underwhelming rookie campaign while 2021 first-round pick Travis Etienne will miss his entire rookie season thanks to injury. The front office used that fourth-round pick in a trade that netted the draft picks that turned into defensive end Jordan Smith and wideout Jalen Camp (who’s already been waived).

At one point in time, it looked like Ramsey could go down as one of the best players in Jaguars history. However, the cornerback drastically changed the course of his career on this day in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Saints Extend HC Sean Payton

On this date in 2019, Sean Payton got a significant pay bump and commitment from the New Orleans Saints. On September 15, 2019, the head coach inked a new five-year deal with the organization.

Payton, a former QB-turned-coach, spent a few years as Giants offensive coordinator and Cowboys assistant head coach before securing the head coaching job in New Orleans in 2006. Payton’s first three years at the helm left a bit to be desired; the Saints had only one playoff appearance and went 25-23 between the three campaigns. However, the Saints finally broke through in 2009, winning 13 games en route to a Super Bowl championship.

The Saints remained a contender through 2013 (although Payton wasn’t with them in 2012 thanks to a suspension). While the team underwhelmed and went 7-9 each season between 2014 and 2016, Payton and the team managed to rehabilitate their image and rejoin the class of the NFC. The Saints won 24 games between 2017 and 2018, leading to Payton’s extension in 2019.

While Payton’s previous deal paid him around $9MM per season, this new extension was estimated to be worth up to a whopping $13MM annually, making the Saints leader one of the highest-paid head coaches in professional sports history. Payton’s deal was originally set to end following the 2020 season, but the extension (which ripped up the final year of the former deal) kept the head coach in New Orleans through at least 2024.

Perhaps more importantly, the extension kept Payton away from one of the Saints’ NFC foes. Since Payton joined the Saints, the Cowboys made multiple attempts to recruit the coach back to Dallas. Even then, the extension didn’t do much to stop them; the Cowboys reportedly reached out to Payton about their head coaching vacancy in 2019 (which VP Stephen Jones later denied).

While the Saints have been unable to return to the Super Bowl, Payton has still managed to keep the organization relevant. After inking his extension, the head coach guided his team to a 13-3 record in 2019 and a 12-4 record in 2020. There’s some uncertainty about the organization’s ability to compete in the post-Drew Brees era. However, thanks in part to the extension signed on this date in 2019, the Saints brass can rest easy knowing that they have one organizational pillar signed long term.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell Signs Franchise Tender

On this date in 2017, Le’Veon Bell‘s first holdout officially came to an end. On September 4, 2017, the star running back inked his franchise tender with the Steelers.

By the start of the 2017 regular season, Bell had already established himself as one of the best running backs in football. The former second-round pick had exceeded 1,000 yards from scrimmage in three of his first four seasons, and he collected 31 touchdowns through his first four campaigns. Thanks to that production, Bell wanted to be paid like one of the top running backs in the NFL, and the Steelers were certainly willing to oblige…on their terms. The team seemed to be operating on a year-by-year approach before committing big money to Bell. It was hard to blame the organization; the running back missed three games as a rookie, 10 games in 2015, and another four games in 2016. The team clearly wanted Bell to prove he could stay healthy.

Ultimately, Bell stayed home during training camp and the 2017 preseason after the two sides couldn’t reach agreement on an extension before the deadline. Bell’s decision to hold out was mostly a sign of defiance, but it didn’t sound like there was any tension between the two sides. It was reported throughout the offseason that Bell would show up for Week 1, and he did just that. That led to the September 4th transaction, when Bell inked his franchise tender. The move locked him into a one-year, $12.12MM deal.

Bell had another standout season in 2017, and he managed to appear in 15 games. He earned first-team All-Pro honors after finishing the season with 1,946 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns on a league-leading 406 carries. He also had a pair of touchdowns in the Steelers’ playoff loss to the Jaguars.

Instead of inking Bell to a long-term deal, the Steelers decided to play hard ball again in 2018. The team utilized the franchise tag for a second-straight season, meaning Bell would earn $14.5MM that year. Predictably, the running back held out again, but he’d never return to the team. He didn’t report to the team prior to the deadline to ink his franchise tender, making him ineligible to play in 2018. The Steelers didn’t use the franchise tag in 2019, which finally made Bell a free agent.

The running back ended up getting a four-year, $52.5MM deal from the Jets, and he was somewhat productive during his first season in New York, finishing with 1,250 yards from scrimmage. He dealt with injuries in 2020 and hinted that he wanted a trade, leading to his outright release. He caught on with the Chiefs for the stretch run, and he finished with 353 yards from scrimmage in his nine games with Kansas City. He only saw time in one of the Chiefs’ three playoff games. The 29-year-old remains unsigned for the 2021 season.

It’s hard not to wonder how Bell’s career would currently look had he not sat out that 2018 campaign. His 2017 holdout was a precursor of things to come, and despite the fact that he signed his tag (on this date in 2017), the whole event certainly played a role in his future negotiations with the Steelers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Vikings’ Brock Lesnar Retires From NFL

Seventeen years ago, Brock Lesnar stepped out of the squared circle and on to the gridiron. The WWE superstar hadn’t played organized football since high school, but his athletic ability made the Vikings curious enough to give the muscle-bound homegrown talent an opportunity to compete in training camp as a defensive tackle.

On the surface, this seemed to be a publicity ploy for the former WWE champion, but there was reason to believe that Lesnar could defy the odds and embark on a legitimate professional sports career. Before Lesnar beat the likes of The Rock and The Undertaker, he was an amateur wrestling phenom at the University of Minnesota, where he captured the 2000 NCAA Division I heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestling championship.

At 6’2″ and 285 pounds, Lesnar’s drill times and marks were downright impressive. With a reported 4.7-second 40-yard-dash time, 35-inch vertical leap, and 30 reps on the 225-pound bench press, Lesnar would have bested many DTs at the 2004 combine. For reference, No. 14 overall pick Tommie Harris ran a 4.78-second 40-yard-dash and posted 29 reps on the bench press before the Bears made him the first DT drafted in April.

Despite never playing football in college, Lesnar was still only 26 years old at the time and had real potential as a raw prospect. Still, there was one big problem – an April motorcycle accident left Lesnar with a busted jaw, a broken left hand, a bruised pelvis, and a pulled groin. Playing at less than 100% health, Lesnar’s unlikely mission became even more improbable.

After Lesnar missed the Vikings’ cut in late August, the Vikings offered him a spot on their NFL Europe affiliate team. Citing a desire to stay close to his family in the U.S., Lesnar left football, transitioned to MMA, and went on to become the heavyweight champion of the UFC.

Lesnar’s NFL career was short-lived, but his presence in camp was appreciated by Randy Moss, Nate Burleson, and other members of the Vikings’ locker room who grew up as wrasslin’ fans. Lesnar also got to put his WWE skills to good use while with the Vikes. When a Chiefs defender roughed up Daunte Culpepper during a summer scrimmage, Lesnar grabbed him by the waist, suplexed him high in the air, and slammed him on the turf. At least, that’s how Burleson remembers it.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.