Brian O’Neill

Contract Details: Baker, O’Neill, Steelers

Despite being in the second half of the NFL season, teams are still actively cleaning up their books in anticipation of upcoming moves or future offseason transactions. We’ve compiled some of the notable financial moves below (plus an interesting note about a future Hall of Fame quarterback):

  • Jerome Baker, LB (Dolphins): restructured deal. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter), Baker restructured his contract and reduced his 2022 cap hit by about $2.5MM. This restructuring came on the heels of Miami’s notable trade deadline acquisitions, moves that required the front office to clear up a bit of cap. The 2018 third-round pick has turned into a consistent starter for the Dolphins. After collecting more than 300 tackles through his first three professional seasons, Baker inked a three-year, $39MM extension with the organization back in 2021.
  • Brian O’Neill, OT (Vikings): restructured deal. According to Yates (on Twitter), the Vikings converted $1.8MM of O’Neill’s base salary into a signing bonus, creating close to $1.5MM in cap space. Prior to the move, the Vikings were closing in on the cap, so this should provide them with a bit more wiggle room. In 2021, the former second-round pick signed a five-year, $92.5MM extension with the organization, and he ended up earning his first career Pro Bowl nod later that season.
  • William Jackson III, CB (Steelers): reworked deal. Following his trade to Pittsburgh, Jackson agreed to wipe out the remainder of his per-game roster bonuses, per Yates (on Twitter). Those bonuses were valued at around $44K per game. The cornerback is still due the remainder of his base salary, valued at around $2.7MM, and he helped saved the organization $350K against the cap. Jackson is still attached to a three-year, $40.5MM deal that he signed with Washington in 2021. He was traded to the Steelers at the deadline for a conditional 2025 sixth-round pick for a conditional 2025 seventh-round pick.
  • Aaron Rodgers, QB (Packers): contract details. It’s been a while since Aaron Rodgers inked his massive three-year, $150MM extension with Green Bay, but details are still trickling out about the contract. According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Rodgers’ $58.3MM option bonus in 2023 can be exercised at any time between the first day of the 2023 league year and the day before the Packers’ regular season opener. This is important timing if the Packers decide to trade their franchise quarterback this offseason. Demovsky also provides details on Rodgers’ contract in 2024. The $49.25MM in salary and bonuses is only guaranteed against injury, but it will become fully guaranteed on the fifth day following the previous season’s Super Bowl.

Vikings Extend Brian O’Neill For Five Years, $92.5MM

On the eve of the regular season, the Vikings are locking up a key piece. Minnesota has agreed to an extension with offensive tackle Brian O’Neill, the team announced on Wednesday.

It’s a five-year deal worth a whopping $92.5MM, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. That’s an average annual value of $18.5MM. He’s still pretty young, so it’s not too surprising to see O’Neill getting top-of-the-market right tackle money. With this new pact, he’s now the second-highest-paid right tackle in the league.

The deal includes $53.4MM in total guarantees and $22.6MM guaranteed at signing, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The total guarantees place O’Neill in the top three at right tackle, but the true guarantee does not. Six right tackles are signed to deals that include more than $24MM guaranteed. O’Neill will collect $40MM through the second year of this extension.

O’Neill, a second-round pick back in 2018, had previously been set to enter the final year of his rookie deal and become a free agent at the end of the season. The Pittsburgh product had his best year last season and earned pretty strong marks from Pro Football Focus, grading out as their 24th-best overall tackle.

O’Neill became a starter a little over a month into his rookie season and has held onto his job ever since. He started all 16 games last year and won’t turn 26 until next week.

The team drafted Christian Darrisaw in the first round out of Virginia Tech to start opposite O’Neill on Kirk Cousins‘ blindside. But as Darrisaw continues to struggle to recover from core muscle surgery, it looks like Rashod Hill will be starting the season across from O’Neill.

Vikings Discussing Extensions With Harrison Smith, Brian O’Neill

Harrison Smith recently expressed a desire to stay in Minnesota beyond the duration of his current contract, which expires after this season, but it did not sound at that point like notable extension talks had commenced. However, the sides may be prepared to come together on another agreement.

The Vikings have discussed another extension with Smith, according to SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson, who adds the talks have picked up “significantly” (h/t Sean Borman of VikingsTerritory.com). Given Anthony Harris‘ offseason departure, it would make sense for the Vikings to explore a second Smith extension. He has been one of the NFL’s better safeties for many years.

Smith signed a five-year, $51.25MM deal nearly five years ago today. That July 6, 2016 agreement, however, is no longer a top-market contract. Counting Marcus Maye and Marcus Williams‘ franchise tags, Smith’s AAV ranks 11th among safeties. The market has eclipsed $15MM per year, and seven safeties are now attached to $14MM-AAV accords. Jamal Adams‘ likely forthcoming Seahawks extension stands to raise it higher.

The 2021 season will be Smith’s 10th, and while the 32-year-old defender saw his five-year run of Pro Bowls cease in 2020, he matched his career high with five interceptions last season. He did so for a Vikings defense that cratered after defections and numerous injuries stripped away veterans. Minnesota let Harris walk to Philadelphia — on merely a one-year, $4MM deal — but signed ex-Dallas starter Xavier Woods and drafted Camryn Bynum in Round 4 this year.

Although another five-year deal is almost certainly not in the cards, Smith has remained a high-end safety into his 30s. Pro Football Focus has rated him as a top-15 player at the position in each year of his current contract. The former first-round pick will be expected to play a key role in elevating the 2021 Minnesota defense, which looks considerably better than last season’s iteration.

Additionally, Wolfson notes the Vikings and Brian O’Neill have begun extension talks. A 2018 second-round pick, O’Neill is going into a contract year. O’Neill has been a critical piece for Minnesota’s offensive line. He enters the 2021 season as that unit’s longest-tenured starter, having been a first-string right tackle in 42 games since his rookie year.

The Vikings seemingly have an open slot for an O’Neill extension, with none of their current starting O-linemen tied to notable veteran contracts. The bulk of Minnesota’s blockers are not yet eligible for extensions, putting O’Neill in an interesting spot. The team has some big-ticket deals for offensive standouts on its payroll, having added Dalvin Cook to this group last year, but also shed the Kyle Rudolph and Stefon Diggs contracts over the past year and change.

Vikings Sign Rookie Brian O’Neill

The Vikings officially signed second round pick Brian O’Neill, the team announced. The tackle was selected with the No. 62 overall selection.

O’Neill is now the fifth member of the Vikings draft class to ink his deal, following the signings of kicker Daniel Carlson, guard Colby Gossett, defensive end Ade Aruna, and linebacker Devante Downs on Thursday. As of this writing, Minnesota has just three rookies to go before wrapping up the entire class: cornerback Mike Hughes, defensive tackle Jalyn Holmes, and tight end Tyler Conklin.

O’Neill impressed evaluators with his athleticism during the draft process and his long wingspan should help him adjust to the game at the pro level. However, there are some concerns about consistency in his technique.

The Vikings project to start Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers at the tackle spots this year, but O’Neill will look to get in the rotation as a reserve.

NFL Draft Rumors: Broncos, Jones, Jaguars

The Broncos hosted USC running back Ronald Jones on a pre-draft visit on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Jones, a likely first or second round pick, is coming off of a Monday visit with the Redskins.

It’s very unlikely that Jones is in play at No. 5 overall, but the Broncos also hold the eighth pick in the second round (No. 40 overall), so Jones could be a consideration there.

Here’s the latest round of NFL Draft news:

  • South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert visited with the Jaguars, Alex Marvez of The Sporting News tweets. All in all, Goedert says he has worked out for or visited with “15 to 20 teams.”
  • Pittsburgh tackle Brian O’Neill met with the 49ers, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. As a former tight end, O’Neill has tremendous athleticism for the left tackle position.
  • NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb says that he he does not have a visit lined up with the Browns and the same goes for Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, Albert Breer of The MMQB tweets. However, that doesn’t mean that either player is out of consideration for Cleveland. The Browns are apparently comfortable with the medicals and character of both players.
  • The Patriots are hosting Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans now that his White House trip is over, Rapoport tweets.

Draft Notes: McGlinchey, Edmunds, R. Smith

The 2018 offensive tackle class is setting up to underwhelm, as Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.net observes in his latest look at this year’s prospects. So far, most NFL clubs only rate one tackle — Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey — as worthy of a first-round pick, and given that he may be the only available tackle capable of starting on day one, his stock figures to rise even more as draft day approaches. Meanwhile, Orlando Brown (Oklahoma) is viewed as a right tackle, while Connor Williams (Texas) is only on some teams’ guard boards. Further down the list, Western Michigan’s Chukwuma Okorafor, Pittsburgh’s Brian O’Neill, and UCLA’s Kolton Miller are considered Day 2 selections, while Martinas Rankin (Mississippi State) isn’t believed to be a left tackle at the pro level, per Pauline.

Here’s more on the 2018 draft, all courtesy of Pauline:

  • With NFL teams searching for athletic linebackers, Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Teach) and Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State) are likely to come off the board earlier than many expect, according to Pauline. In fact, Edmunds is rising up draft boards so quickly that he may become a top-12 selection. However, the scouting combine will prove to be an important test for Edmunds, per Pauline, who says the former Hokie lacks “quick change-of-direction skills.” Vander Esch, meanwhile, is being compared to former Bears linebacker and 2018 Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, and most clubs believe he can be a three-down defender.
  • While Edmund and Vander Esch are drawing rave reviews, fellow linebacker Roquan Smith is trending in the other direction, reports Pauline. Given that the pass game now dominates the pro ranks, Smith’s problems playing man coverage against opposing running backs and tight ends could prove troublesome. However, Pauline says Smith can be effective when used in zone coverage, which should make the Georgia product viable for a good number of NFL teams.
  • Wake Forest edge rusher Duke Ejiofor underwent surgery for a torn labrum in late January, but Pauline doesn’t believe the operation will affect Ejiofor’s draft stock. Projected as a Day 2 pick, Ejiofor is expected to run a 4.75 40-yard dash despite sitting at nearly 270 pounds. Scouts are impressed by Ejiofor’s “explosiveness, power, and athleticism,” and given that his labrum injury occurred in October, teams can account for any drop in performance after that time.