CeeDee Lamb

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Adams, Cards, Rams

Recent restructures have vaulted the 49ers past the Browns for cap space. San Francisco’s $42.1MM leads the NFL by more than $7MM. GM John Lynch did not rule out some of these funds being used to add a trade piece, but the 49ers are planning roll over the bulk of the space to 2024.

Really, we always look at the cap for three years out,” Lynch said, via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. “Obviously, we have all that room this year. But really it’s to create room for future years because we roll everything over. It helps us in future years because it creates some room we’re going to need. … We’ve pretty much done what we’re going to do this year, but you never know with the trade deadline and all that.

The 49ers created some space by extending Nick Bosa, though the team authorized a record-smashing accord that will show up on future caps, but Brock Purdy‘s rookie contract runs through 2025. During the Lynch-Kyle Shanahan era, the 49ers have not been shy about adding at the deadline, as the Christian McCaffrey and Emmanuel Sanders trades illustrate. In place as a Super Bowl contender once again, the 49ers will have some ammo to accommodate a bigger salary if they choose. For now, however, they are viewing the restructures to help down the road. Even with the projected carryover, the 49ers currently are projected to hold barely $17MM in 2024 cap space.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • The Seahawks will not delay Jamal Adams‘ return for another week. Pete Carroll pronounced his highest-paid safety as “ready to go” for the team’s Week 4 Monday-night matchup against the Giants. Adams suffered a torn quadriceps tendon during the Seahawks’ season-opening Monday-nighter against the Broncos last year. The seventh-year veteran spent most of training camp on the Seahawks’ active/PUP list, and while he avoided the reserve/PUP designation, he still was expected to miss regular-season time. Additionally, Carroll said Riq Woolen and Charles Cross have a good chance to return in Week 4. Cross has missed the past two games, while Woolen was down for Week 3.
  • In 2020, the Cardinals had both CeeDee Lamb and Tristan Wirfs on their radar when they held the No. 8 overall pick. Many in the Cards’ war room believed it would be a Wirfs-or-Lamb decision, GOPHNX.com’s Howard Balzer notes. Isaiah Simmons instead became the selection. While Simmons did not pan out in Arizona, being traded to the Giants for a seventh-round pick last month, he was viewed as an elite-level prospect. The Lions and Giants were linked to Simmons at Nos. 3 and 4, while Wirfs and Lamb did not go off the board until Nos. 13 and 17. Simmons represents another Steve Keim misstep at linebacker. The Cardinals missed on Deone Bucannon (2014) and had slotted Haason Reddick (2017) as an off-ball player for most of his Arizona run. Zaven Collins (2021) has since been moved to the outside. Simmons moved around the Cardinals’ formation, finishing his desert run as a safety.
  • Sean McVay remains the Rams‘ play-caller, but he allowed new OC Mike LaFleur to implement new concepts upon coming over from the Jets. LaFleur added elements from the Jets and 49ers’ offenses that were not previously in the Rams’ scheme, Dan Pompei of The Athletic writes (subscription required). McVay indicated LaFleur — a Shanahan assistant from 2014-20, with the Browns, Falcons and 49ers — has earned the autonomy he received this offseason, when he came to Los Angeles shortly after a Jets separation.

Cowboys Eyeing CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, Terence Steele Extensions In 2023

The Cowboys’ top extension candidates have come up on multiple occasions this year. While the team has options with each beyond this year, the goal looks to be new deals before heading into the 2024 offseason.

CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs and Terence Steele remain on Dallas’ extension radar, and ESPN.com’s Todd Archer notes the team will look to use training camp to hammer out deals with each. Lamb’s contract runs through 2024, via the recently exercised fifth-year option, while Diggs is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Steele is tied to a second-round RFA tender.

This will not be an easy mission. Diggs’ reputation as a boom-or-bust gambler in coverage notwithstanding, the former second-round pick has a first-team All-Pro nod on his resume — for an 11-interception season — and does not have an extensive injury history. Diggs has missed one game over the past two years. Going into his age-25 season, Diggs will certainly want his second contract to land in the top cornerback tax bracket.

With three corners earning at least $20MM per year and five attached to contracts worth at least $19MM on average, the Cowboys have a high bar to clear. Dallas passed on going into the $16MM-AAV range for Byron Jones three years ago, drafting Diggs shortly after letting its previous top corner walk (for a record-setting Dolphins deal) in free agency. If Diggs is unsigned going into the ’24 offseason, he will likely be positioned as the Cowboys’ top franchise tag candidate.

The Cowboys have a history of extending core performers despite two years remaining on their rookie deals. They did this with Tyron Smith in 2014, with Travis Frederick in 2016 and Ezekiel Elliott in 2019. That said, no team — in the fifth-year option era, that is — has extended a wide receiver with two years left on his rookie contract. Justin Jefferson is also a candidate to become the first wideout since the 2011 CBA to be extended with two years remaining on his rookie deal, though the Vikings are not certain to proceed down this path. That could force Jefferson to contemplate a hold-in effort, and Lamb might be fine waiting until Jefferson raises the booming receiver market further before committing to a second contract. Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones mentioned players’ willingness to wait earlier this offseason.

Lamb, 24, may not be a threat to eclipse Tyreek Hill‘s $30MM-per-year pact now, but if Jefferson raises the positional ceiling and the top Cowboys wideout builds on his 1,359-yard season, the price in 2024 stands to come in higher than it likely does now. Ely Allen assessed Lamb’s extension value last month. The Cowboys cut bait on Amari Cooper‘s five-year, $100MM extension after two seasons; as the salary cap keeps rising, Lamb’s value will be much higher.

Steele is still rehabbing the ACL tear that ended his season early, and his being an extension candidate would point to the Cowboys planning an O-line configuration that keeps him as the starting right tackle. Jerry Jones mentioned the prospect of Steele being a swingman behind Tyron Smith and Tyler Smith, but the notion of the younger Smith sliding to left guard — which he did late in the season — and having the All-Decade blocker back at left tackle (and Steele at right tackle) has also surfaced. How the Cowboys proceed would have a big impact on Steele’s value.

A former UDFA, Steele, 26, can certainly enhance his market by putting together a strong contract year post-injury. Nine years after signing what has become the NFL’s longest-running active contract, Tyron Smith is due for free agency in 2024 as well. Steele’s status would seemingly factor into the Hall of Fame candidate’s Dallas future. Center Tyler Biadasz also could land on the Cowboys’ extension radar, Archer adds, though the fourth-year blocker is likely behind the above-referenced players in the queue.

The Cowboys’ ability to extend Diggs and Steele this year could affect Tony Pollard‘s future with the team. The Cowboys not entering into serious negotiations with the Pro Bowl back led to him joining Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs in being tied to the $10.1MM franchise tag this season. Because of this, Archer adds it is “highly likely” this season will be it for Pollard in Dallas. The Cowboys can tag Pollard again in 2024 — at 120% of his current tag number — but higher-end tag options could be in place by then.

That raises the stakes for prospective Diggs negotiations this summer, though the increasingly grim running back market may also allow the Cowboys to re-sign Pollard if no extension is reached before the 2024 legal tampering period.

Extension Candidate: CeeDee Lamb

With each of year of his career, Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb has progressed towards to top echelon of NFL wideouts. After a third season that may have established him in that top group, Lamb has become a top extension priority for the Cowboys’ front office. What will it take to lock down the team’s top receiver long-term? And will Dallas be willing to spend it?

Coming out of Oklahoma as a consensus All-American, Lamb was selected 17th overall by the Cowboys. With a strong mentor in Amari Cooper, Lamb made an immediate impact as a rookie, finishing second on the team in receptions (74) and receiving yards (935) while matching Cooper and Michael Gallup for the team-lead in touchdown receptions with five. By Year 2, Lamb was ready to take the reins. With Gallup missing eight games due to injury, Lamb significantly stepped up his production even surpassing Cooper for the team-lead in receptions (79) and receiving yards (1,102) while bettering his own rookie receiving touchdown total by one.

Lamb’s continued progression made Dallas confident in his ability to function as the team’s top wideout, allowing them to trade away Cooper and his bulky contract. No problem for Lamb. He took over as WR1 and excelled. He used his new position as the lone man on top and delivered career-highs in receptions (107), receiving yards (1,359), and receiving touchdowns (9), leading Dallas in all three categories. Not only did he lead his team, but Lamb was also top-ten in the league in all three statistics.

Last season helped to break Lamb into the conversation for top-ten receivers. Not only did he post top-ten statistics, but the analysts over at Pro Football Focus (subscription required) also slotted him as the eighth-best receiver in the league. So, what exactly does his status as a top-ten wideout mean for a potential extension?

Currently, the top ten annual averages for wide receiver contracts in the NFL all exceed $20MM per year, the number the Cowboys granted to Cooper back in 2020. With the exception of Keenan Allen, who signed his deal in 2020, all of those top contracts were reached last year. This means that, while the numbers may inflate a bit in 2023, they shouldn’t be that far off from last year’s record-breaking deals. Those deals range from D.J. Moore‘s three-year, $61.88MM deal ($20.63MM average annual value) to Tyreek Hill‘s league-topping four-year, $120MM contract ($30MM AAV).

Lamb still trails a few of the top moneymakers at the position statistically. Hill, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, and A.J. Brown were all able to outperform Lamb in some aspects. Others, like Cooper Kupp, D.K. Metcalf, and Deebo Samuel have had higher highs in their careers than Lamb but have lacked his consistency and progress. I’d estimate that Lamb should fetch more than Terry McLaurin‘s $22.79MM per year but likely less than Adams’s $28MM. He probably deserves to be in the range of Diggs, Metcalf, and Samuel, but the usual annual inflation should boost him up into the range of Brown and Kupp.

While most of the top contracts are three or four years in length, the Cowboys didn’t shy away from giving Cooper a five-year deal after his fifth season. They’re likely not going to want to let Lamb slip through their fingers and, with only three years of NFL play under his belt, they can stand to stack an extra year in the deal. I think the Cowboys could get away with offering a little less in AAV by going for a five-year deal, as well. A five-year, $125MM offer makes a lot of sense. It would give Lamb the second-largest receiver contract in the NFL, behind only Adams’s $140MM, but would only put him tied for fourth in AAV at $25MM per year.

One of the reasons that Lamb’s extension is a priority for Dallas has nothing to do with the Cowboys or Lamb. Lamb’s fellow 2020 draftee Justin Jefferson is likely also working towards an extension in Minnesota soon. Statistically, Jefferson’s worst season is comparable to Lamb’s best. Since entering the league, Jefferson has finished every season as a top-four wideout, according to PFF. Whenever Jefferson signs a new contract, he will likely set a new bar for receiver deals. That puts Dallas in a race against the clock. They would likely prefer to get a deal done with Lamb before Jefferson resets the market at a new higher rate.

There you have it. A Lamb extension has been on the team’s mind since at least March. They can lock down their star wideout with a top-five deal right now and make both parties happy. Their best chance, though, is to get that done before the Vikings extend Jefferson. If Jefferson is able to reset the market, holding on to Lamb may come at an even greater cost.

Cowboys Eyeing Multiple Extensions

The Cowboys have made a few notable outside additions this offseason, including the trade acquisitions of wideout Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. A number of internal extension candidates are in place, though, and getting deals done with several of them remains a priority.

EVP Stephen Jones indicated on Monday that the Cowboys have “in general touched base” with players in line for new contracts, such as quarterback Dak Prescott, receiver CeeDee Lamb, cornerback Trevon Diggs and offensive lineman Terence Steele (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). Each of those names have been linked to potential extensions during this offseason, with Prescott representing an obvious priority given his current financial situation.

The 29-year-old restructured his contract in March, a move which freed up considerable cap space for what has been an eventful offseason in Dallas. As a result, however, Prescott’s 2024 cap hit is scheduled to be $59.4MM, a figure which will need to be lowered significantly via a new contract. Team owner Jerry Jones made it clear (via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, on Twitter), however, that a new Prescott accord doesn’t necessarily need to be worked out before extensions for other key players.

Both Lamb and Diggs have been in Dallas for the past three years; while the former is under contract for 2024 via the fifth-year option, the latter is entering a contract year. The pair have each earned two Pro Bowl nods and are foundational pieces of the team’s long-term core. In came as no surprise, then, when it was learned in March that extensions for both were among the Cowboys’ priorities. Given the value of the WR and CB markets, second contracts for Lamb and Diggs will require a sizeable multi-year commitment.

In Steele’s case, a smaller deal may suffice to have him on the books beyond 2023. The former UDFA has emerged as a valued member of their offensive front, and will play on a $4.3MM RFA tender this season. Steele’s likeliest position this year appears to be at left guard, with both Tyler Smith and Tyron Smith in place to occupy the tackle spots. A strong season on the interior would add further to his value, and thus his asking price on the open market. Avoiding that situation with any or all of the aforementioned players over the coming months is front of mind for the Cowboys.

“The timing has got to be right for those guys and it’s gotta be right for us,” Stephen Jones said, via Machota. “Our goal would be to hopefully start to chip away at this… No specific order. It’s just kind of when opportunity arises. They gotta be motivated to want to do it. It seems like more and more guys want to wait… because usually the price goes up from one year to the next. People don’t seem to be as in that type of hurry, but if the opportunity is there we sure would like to get 1-2-3 of these guys signed. We’d love to do more than one.”

2024 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 2 to officially pick up fifth-year options on 2020 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. The 2020 CBA revamped the option structure and made them fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, fifth-year option salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement and performance- and usage-based benchmarks:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the third-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • At least a 75% snap rate in two of their first three seasons
    • A 75% snap average across all three seasons
    • At least 50% in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will receive the average of the third-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

  1. QB Joe Burrow, Bengals ($29.5MM): Exercised
  2. DE Chase Young, Commanders ($17.45MM): Declined
  3. CB Jeff Okudah, Falcons* ($11.51MM): N/A
  4. T Andrew Thomas, Giants ($14.18MM): Exercised
  5. QB Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins ($23.2MM): Exercised
  6. QB Justin Herbert, Chargers ($29.5MM): Exercised
  7. DT Derrick Brown, Panthers ($11.67MM): Exercised 
  8. LB Isaiah Simmons, Cardinals ($12.72MM): Declined
  9. CB C.J. Henderson, Jaguars** ($11.51MM): Declined
  10. T Jedrick Wills, Browns ($14.18MM): Exercised
  11. T Mekhi Becton, Jets ($12.57MM): Declined
  12. WR Henry Ruggs, Raiders: N/A
  13. T Tristan Wirfs, Buccaneers ($18.24MM): Exercised
  14. DT Javon Kinlaw, 49ers ($10.46MM): Declined
  15. WR Jerry Jeudy, Broncos ($14.12MM): Exercised
  16. CB AJ Terrell, Falcons ($12.34MM): Exercised
  17. WR CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys ($17.99MM): Exercised
  18. OL Austin Jackson, Dolphins ($14.18MM): Declined
  19. CB Damon Arnette, Raiders: N/A
  20. DE K’Lavon Chaisson, Jaguars ($12.14MM): Declined
  21. WR Jalen Reagor, Vikings*** ($12.99MM): To decline
  22. WR Justin Jefferson, Vikings ($19.74MM): Exercised
  23. LB Kenneth Murray, Chargers ($11.73MM): Declined
  24. G Cesar Ruiz, Saints ($14.18MM): Declined
  25. WR Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers ($14.12MM): Exercised
  26. QB Jordan Love, Packers ($20.27MM): Extended through 2024
  27. LB Jordyn Brooks, Seahawks ($12.72MM): Declined
  28. LB Patrick Queen, Ravens ($12.72MM): Declined
  29. T Isaiah Wilson, Titans: N/A
  30. CB Noah Igbinoghene, Dolphins ($11.51MM): Declined
  31. CB Jeff Gladney, Vikings: N/A
  32. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs ($5.46MM): To decline

* = Lions traded Okudah on April 11, 2023
** = Jaguars traded Henderson on Sept. 27, 2021
*** = Eagles traded Reagor on August 31, 2022

Cowboys Pick Up CeeDee Lamb’s Fifth-Year Option, Eyeing Extension

As the deadline for teams to pick up fifth-year options for 2020 first-round picks looms in less than two weeks (May 3), the Cowboys will extend CeeDee Lamb‘s contract through 2024. The team made the expected decision to exercise Lamb’s option.

We heard early last month the Cowboys were heading in this direction, and it will cost the Cowboys $17.99MM. Lamb is tied to a $2.5MM base salary this year and a $4.5MM cap number. Should Lamb play on the fifth-year option in 2024, the Cowboys will have a much higher cap hit on their payroll.

Although Lamb, 24, has two Pro Bowls on his resume, the first of those — in 2021 — came as an alternate. Regarding the four-tiered fifth-year option structure, Lamb being voted to the 2022 Pro Bowl Games as an original invitee places him on the second tier. Players voted to the Pro Bowl twice in their first three years comprise the top tier of the option structure, which came to be as part of the 2020 CBA.

The Cowboys have done well to identify first-round talent over the past several years. Lamb earning a Pro Bowl invite during his first three seasons follows the likes of Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Ezekiel Elliott, Leighton Vander Esch and Micah Parsons. The Cowboys gave Smith, Frederick, Martin and Elliott extensions — which reduced their cap hits before their fifth-year option seasons — and the team wants to extend Lamb as well. The Cowboys will aim to extend their top wideout at some point in 2023, Todd Archer of ESPN.com adds.

Despite rostering Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup at the time they chose Lamb 17th overall, the Cowboys going with a best-player-available strategy paid off. Gallup surpassed 1,100 receiving yards in 2019, and Cooper had just signed a five-year deal worth $100MM. But the Cowboys viewed Lamb, who went off the board after Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy, as too talented to pass up. The Oklahoma product has proved the team correct. His 260 receptions through three seasons are the most in team history.

The Cowboys carried the Cooper-Lamb-Gallup trio for two seasons but dismantled it by trading Cooper to the Browns last year. Lamb became the team’s aerial centerpiece in 2022, and his 1,359-yard year make it fairly easy to predict both the option will be exercised and extension talks will commence. Lamb, who led the 2021 Cowboys in receiving with 1,102 yards, has put himself in position for a lucrative extension.

Dallas has since traded for Brandin Cooks, whom the team pursued last year. But with the Texans eating some of Cooks’ salary, the oft-traded wideout will not check in as a No. 1-level wide receiver on the Cowboys’ payroll. Cooks will count $6MM against Dallas’ cap in 2023 and stands to count $10MM against the 2024 cap. Should the Cowboys finalize a Lamb extension, it will cost more — on a per-year basis, at least — than Cooper’s pact did.

If the Cowboys cannot come to an extension agreement with Lamb this year, they now will have the 2024 offseason to do so as well. This also keeps the door open for a potential Trevon Diggs franchise tag next year. The Cowboys want to extend the young cornerback, but with Diggs being a former second-round pick, no option exists in his contract. The Alabama alum is going into a walk year. The Cowboys having used their franchise tag in each of the past six years certainly points to a Diggs tag being a reasonable scenario.

Cowboys Aim To Add Another Weapon; Team Eyeing Extensions For CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs

The Cowboys have Michael Gallup entering the second year of his five-year extension, and the team’s No. 2 wide receiver is now more than a year removed from his ACL tear. The team is also expected to use the franchise tag to keep Tony Pollard off the market. But it is eyeing an addition to its skill-position corps as well.

Dallas will pursue a “dynamic weapon” this offseason, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News notes. This will naturally reconnect the Cowboys to Odell Beckham Jr., but Gehlken cautions nothing is imminent there. The addition could also come in the draft.

It also might come at tight end, as Dalton Schultz is likely to leave in free agency. Headlined by Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer and Utah’s Dalton Kincaid, this tight class is viewed as the best in many years. Both those options could well be gone by the time the Cowboys’ No. 26 overall pick arrives. This draft’s receiver class is not viewed as highly, at least compared to the past few, and Stephen Jones‘ comments of the team readying to use the franchise tag almost certainly point to Pollard being the recipient. It would cost just $10.1MM for the Cowboys to keep Pollard. It would be the sixth straight year in which Dallas has used the tag.

As far as veteran receivers go, Beckham headlines a free agency crop not viewed glowingly. It would be interesting to see the Cowboys pay Gallup, tag Pollard and spend on another wide receiver. The team also has designs on extending CeeDee Lamb, with Jones indicating (via the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins) both he and Trevon Diggs are in the team’s long-term plans.

Lamb’s fifth-year option will be picked up, Gehlken adds, as could be expected given his status as a cornerstone player for the team. This would lock in Lamb through 2024, with his price rising next year. Without a fifth-year option available regarding Diggs, a second-round pick, the Cowboys will soon see their top cornerback enter a contract year.

Beyond Beckham, the market stands to include JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jakobi Meyers, DJ Chark and Allen Lazard. Michael Thomas also looks to be available, but the former Saints All-Pro has missed much of the past three seasons. At close to his best, Beckham would qualify as a dynamic weapon. He showed that during the Rams’ 2021 Super Bowl run, one that included an explosive Beckham Super Bowl LVI start before his ACL tear. Beckham did not play last season, healing the second of his two ACL tears sustained during the 2020s, and will turn 31 during the 2023 slate. The Cowboys, Rams and Giants are expected to resume their pursuits of the eight-year veteran, and while Dallas was viewed as the favorite during the late-season sweepstakes, this will be one of the harder price projections to make in recent free agency history.

The Cowboys ended up selling low on Amari Cooper, collecting late-round picks from the Browns for their former No. 1 receiver, and Gallup did not show his previous form after returning from the December 2021 ACL tear. Third-round pick Jalen Tolbert did not acclimate as quickly as the team hoped, Gehlken adds. The South Alabama alum did not see much action last season, and the Cowboys cut James Washington not long after he recovered from his summer foot fracture. Lamb, Gallup and Tolbert are the top receivers under contract; six-year Cowboy Noah Brown is also a free agent. Gallup also underwent arthroscopic knee surgery a few weeks ago but is expected to be ready for OTAs.

Cowboys target Brandin Cooks is again available via trade, though the Texans’ new price point remains to be seen, but Gehlken adds the team is not close on trading for a pass catcher. DeAndre Hopkins joins Cooks in being on the trade block. Jonathan Gannon stopped short of guaranteeing Hopkins will be a Cardinal in 2023, Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com notes, and the former All-Pro’s 2022 PED suspension voided his no-trade clause.

Dallas’ recent big skill-position swings have moved the needle significantly. Cooper made two Pro Bowls as a Cowboy and reeled off three 1,000-yard seasons, while Lamb — chosen after Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy but before Justin Jefferson — broke through for a career-high 1,359 yards and nine touchdown catches in 2022. It appears a serious effort to complement Lamb and Pollard will commence soon.

WR Notes: Hilton, Watkins, Lamb, Tolbert

The Colts have made a number of noteworthy additions on both sides of the ball this offseason, once again leading to optimism that they will field one of the AFC’s most talented and balanced rosters. However, the wide receiver position remains one surrounded by question marks, as it has for several seasons.

Outside of Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis lacks proven pass-catchers. The addition of second-rounder Alec Pierce in particular represents cause for optimism that the unit will have more upside with Matt Ryan at the helm, but a veteran addition could still be in the cards. Especially if the likes of Parris Campbell and Ashton Dulin are unable to stay on the field and produce as effective complimentary wideouts at a minimum, an experienced option could be required.

If the team were to make a move, they would “likely” turn to T.Y. Hilton, as noted by Zak Keefer of The Athletic (subscription required). The 32-year-old has always been the most logical candidate to sign with the Colts, given his long history with the franchise. The door has remained open to a second straight one-year reunion between the two sides, but other receiver-needy teams could also consider him in the weeks leading up to the regular season.

Here are a couple of other WR notes from around the league:

  • Much has been made this offseason about how the Packers have re-worked their receiver room. The addition of three rookies during the draft (Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure) could create a bit of a logjam at the position for veterans lower down the depth chart. That could leave Sammy Watkins on the roster bubble, as noted by ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. The 29-year-old signed a one-year deal with Green Bay looking to fill the void left by Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but, especially if the team opts to sign another wideout, he could find himself back on the open market shortly before the season begins.
  • Another team which traded away a notable wideout this spring was the Cowboys. The absence of Amari Cooper will vault CeeDee Lamb to the role of undisputed No. 1, which could affect his special teams responsibilities. Per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, Lamb (who has led the team in punt returns in each of his first two seasons in the NFL) could cede those duties to another wideout. Cedrick Wilson handled the second-most punts last year, but his free agent departure leaves the top spot open to competition. So far, third round rookie Jalen Tolbert has seen the most action as a return man in practice, and could be the favorite to win the job full-time. Head coach Mike McCarthy said “he seems pretty natural back there,” so it will be worth watching come training camp to see if he can permanently win the spot.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Eagles, Lamb

The Giants‘ long-rumored James Bradberry separation leaves them thin at the cornerback position. Although Big Blue should not be ruled out of a veteran addition here, the team is turning to one of its holdovers to fill Bradberry’s spot. Aaron Robinson, a 2021 third-round pick, is the early favorite to start on the outside opposite Adoree’ Jackson, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes. A 2021 third-round pick out of Central Florida (by way of Alabama), Robinson played in just nine games last season and made two starts. Despite beginning the season on the PUP list due to an offseason core surgery, Robinson played 243 defensive snaps as a rookie. The Giants also have 2021 slot corner Darnay Holmes as a possible outside option in Don Martindale‘s defense, per Vacchiano, with third-round rookie Cor’Dale Flott competing with Holmes for the slot gig.

If the Giants are to pursue vets, many are available. Kevin King, Xavier Rhodes, Joe Haden and Trae Waynes remain free agents, as does ex-Martindale Ravens charge Jimmy Smith, though he has battled injuries and is going into what would be his age-34 season. Here is the latest from around the NFC East:

  • New York did make a replacement effort at tight end, after losing Evan Engram to Jacksonville. Ex-Texan Jordan Akins is a Giant, and Ricky Seals-Jones remains rostered. But fourth-round rookie Daniel Bellinger resides as a candidate to usurp both on the depth chart, Vacchiano adds. Bellinger, who played collegiately at Georgia, has taken first-team reps during OTAs. The 6-foot-6 pass catcher was a three-year Bulldogs contributor, though he only topped 350 receiving yards once (357 in 2021, a two-touchdown season).
  • Ex-Bellinger Bulldogs teammate Nakobe Dean entered the draft with more fanfare, though he nearly joined Bellinger as a Day 3 pick. The Eagles stopped the acclaimed linebacker’s freefall at No. 83 overall, doing so in part because they were high on his football IQ during the pre-draft process. In working at both the middle and weakside spots, Dean has a chance to carve out a significant role as a rookie, per NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank. This could mean Dean ascends to a three-down role as a rookie. The Eagles signed ex-Charger Kyzir White but nontendered 2021 regular Alex Singleton as an RFA. T.J. Edwards, however, has been a starter for the past two seasons. It will be interesting to see where Dean is once the Eagles convene for training camp.
  • Isaac Seumalo is involved in a rather high-stakes offseason. The injury-prone guard looms as a cut candidate, but he remains an option to be a Week 1 starter. This is by design, with Frank adding the veteran blocker will either be the Eagles’ right guard starter or be released. This appears a test to see if Seumalo (21 missed games since 2020) can still show the form that prompted the Eagles to give him a three-year, $17.6MM extension in 2019. Now that we are into June, a Seumalo release would create more than $5MM in cap space.
  • CeeDee Lamb has both bulked up and, strangely, grown a half-inch this offseason. The 23-year-old Cowboys wide receiver has gained 10 pounds and said he grew to 6-foot-2 1/2, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News notes. With Jerry Jones calling Lamb a superior No. 1 option to the since-traded Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup unlikely to be ready for Week 1, Lamb will have plenty on his shoulders to start the season.

Cowboys Re-Sign WR Michael Gallup

The Cowboys will avoid letting wide receiver Michael Gallup hit the free agent market after to a five-year, $57.5MM deal, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (on Twitter). After trading away Amari Cooper earlier this week, this moves cements that Dallas’s other three top pass catchers will be returning for the 2022 NFL season.

Gallup, 26, will collect $23MM in guarantees, with Pelissero noting this contract will max out at $62.5MM. A nice payday for Cooper’s former sidekick, whom the Cowboys have chosen over their four-year WR1.

A third-round pick out of Colorado State in 2018, Gallup broke out for 1,107 yards in 2019 alongside Cooper. The arrival of CeeDee Lamb in 2020 limited his production to a still impressive 843 yards as a number three receiver. Even in an injury-plagued 2021 season, Gallup enjoyed glimpses of success.

This news has been in the works for a while now with estimates that the Cowboys were aiming for a five-year pact with an annual average value around $10MM, but that Gallup’s camp may possibly having been pushing for a shorter commitment. Either the rumors about Gallup’s camp have been proven untrue or an annual average value of nearly $12MM was too enticing to turn down.

Regardless, the long-term, decently priced deal is a strong commitment to Gallup after he only played in nine games of his contract year due to a Week 1 calf injury and a season-ending ACL tear in Week 16. The contract seems to indicate that the Cowboys are confident in the medical information they are receiving on Gallup’s recovery.

With decisions made on Cooper and Gallup, and the franchise tag placed on Dalton Schultz, Dallas can focus its attention on the litany of other impact players set to hit the free agent market this week like Randy Gregory, Connor Williams, Leighton Vander Esch and Cedrick Wilson.