Josey Jewell

Contract Details: Winston, Ward, Fournette, Conklin, Jones, Jewell, Vander Esch

Here are the latest details from recently agreed-upon contracts around the NFL:

  • Charvarius Ward, CB (49ers): Three years, $40.5MM. Of Ward’s $26.7MM in guarantees, $12MM comes via a signing bonus, Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus tweets. The 49ers will keep Ward’s initial cap hit low, with his 2022 figure checking in at $3.8MM. That spikes to $16.3MM in 2023. Two void years are included in Ward’s deal, giving the 49ers a cap charge of $4.81MM in 2025.
  • Jameis Winston, QB (Saints): Two years, $28MM. Winston received a $14MM signing bonus and has a $1.2MM fully guaranteed 2022 base salary, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. $5.8MM of Winston’s $12.8MM 2023 base salary is presently guaranteed for injury; it will become fully guaranteed on Day 3 of the 2023 league year. Winston can earn up to $16MM in incentives, $8MM in each year, through team accomplishments — as long as Winston is the Saints’ primary starter — and participation rate.
  • Leonard Fournette, RB (Buccaneers): Three years, $21MM. Along with a $4.5MM signing bonus, the Bucs fully guaranteed Fournette’s 2022 base salary ($2MM) and $2MM of his $6.5MM 2023 base, Florio notes. Another $2MM of that amount turns from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee next year. Fournette’s $6.5MM 2024 base is nonguaranteed. Among the deal’s $1.5MM in incentives, which only cover 2023 and 2024, Fournette can collect $250K for finishing a season in the top 15 in rushing yards and $500K for a top-10 rushing finish.
  • Tyler Conklin, TE (Jets): Three years, $20.25MM. The Jets are guaranteeing Conklin $10MM, including $3.9MM of his 2023 base salary. Conklin’s cap hits go $3.4MM, $8.4MM, $8.4MM from 2022-24, Spielberger tweets.
  • Ben Jones, C (Titans): Two years, $14MM. Jones will see $8MM guaranteed, which comes via $6.88MM signing bonus and a guaranteed $1.12MM 2022 base salary, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. Jones’ deal includes a $1MM roster bonus due on Day 5 of the 2023 league year. His 2023 base salary comes in at $5MM.
  • Josey Jewell, LB (Broncos): Two years, $11MM. The Broncos guaranteed Jewell $6MM, which is present through a $4MM signing bonus and a $1.5MM 2022 base salary, Wilson tweets. His nonguaranteed 2023 base comes in at $4.49MM. An additional $1MM in incentives are also available for the four-year veteran.
  • Leighton Vander Esch, LB (Cowboys): One year, $2MM. The Cowboys are guaranteeing $1.75MM and included an additional $1MM in playing-time incentives, Ari Meirov of PFF tweets.

Broncos To Re-Sign LB Josey Jewell

The Broncos continue to fill starting spots along their defense. They are bringing back multiyear linebacker starter Josey Jewell, Mike Klis of 9News reports.

Jewell is staying in Denver on a two-year deal worth $11MM. This comes a few weeks after the Broncos were connected to another Jewell contract. Denver had both its long-term linebacker starters — Jewell and Alexander Johnson — on track for free agency.

Both Jewell and Johnson missed most of last season; the former went down in Week 2 with a torn pectoral muscle. Denver selected Jewell in the 2018 fourth round and continued to use the Iowa product in a prominent role, giving him 30 starts in four seasons on his rookie deal. Jewell, 27, made 113 tackles in 16 starts during the 2020 season.

While Johnson was the slightly higher-regarded linebacker during the duo’s time together in Denver, he is three years older. Denver is not expected to re-sign Johnson, per Klis, who adds 2021 third-round pick Baron Browning is ticketed to play alongside Jewell as an off-ball linebacker starter. Jewell also stands to be a relatively low-cost signing, given his recent injury. The Broncos now have Jewell, D.J. Jones and Randy Gregory in the fold on their front seven.

Denver Emerging As Premier QB Destination

We wrote a bit earlier today on the Broncos being among multiple AFC teams who “have trade compensation lined up with the Packers,” in relation to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Well, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Denver has emerged as a prime location for many of the league’s veteran quarterbacks looking for a potential change of scenery.

The Broncos recently hired former Packers’ offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to replace Vic Fangio, who failed to accomplish a winning season in three years with the Broncos. The former Green Bay staffer represents an obvious and strong connection for Rodgers. Should Rodgers decide to move on from the Packers, having a play-caller that he’s familiar with could add some allure to the Mile High City. Another intriguing aspect that could bring a star quarterback to Denver is the addition of former Vikings’ offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak as passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Kubiak just helped Kirk Cousins turn in one of his best seasons in Minnesota.

Hackett and company inherit an impressive roster posed to perform. The defense is comprised of veterans like outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, safety Justin Simmons, defensive end Shelby Harris, and cornerback Ronald Darby. There are a number of free agents that Denver would like to bring back like cornerbacks Bryce Callahan & Kyle Fuller, defensive back Kareem Jackson, inside linebacker Josey Jewell, and outside linebacker Malik Reed. Even if they fail to bring some of those names back, the Broncos saw impressive seasons last year for youngsters like cornerback Patrick Surtain II, linebacker Baron Browning, defensive end Dre’Mont Jones, and safety Caden Sterns. The list of defensive players above may not overwhelm you with stardom, but, together, the Broncos defense ranked third in the league in points allowed and eighth in the league in yards allowed.

In addition to a brand new offense and stacked defense, Denver boasts a nice array of young offensive weapons. An impressive receiving corps is led by veteran 26-year-old Courtland Sutton, young star Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick, who has broken out a bit over the past two seasons. The Broncos also have two talented, young receiving tight ends in Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam. Any quarterback looking to join in on the fun would potentially have the benefit of a two-headed rushing attack that was 79 yards short of a combined 2,000-yard rushing season. Running back Javonte Williams enjoyed a healthy dose of carries in his rookie season, and there is mutual interest in bringing back Melvin Gordon.

Rodgers is obviously a name to keep an eye on as the decision on his future in Green Bay looms on the horizon. He has said that he will let the Packers know of his intentions before the franchise tag deadline so they can figure out how to deal with free agent wide receiver Davante Adams. In addition to Rodgers, though, keep an eye out for Denver to make moves on other quarterbacks searching for greener pastures. Russell Wilson has long been rumored to be interested in moving on from Seattle, and Deshaun Watson is still searching for a new home.

Whether Rodgers, Wilson, Watson, or some other under-the-radar name, look for the Broncos to make a move for a star quarterback. If they are able to find the right fit, the move could bring them into contention for what could easily turn into the toughest division in football.

Broncos Looking To Re-Sign Josey Jewell

The Broncos have a number of key free agency decisions to make in the coming weeks, including with their linebacker corps. According to Mike Klis of 9News, one key piece the team is looking to re-up is Josey Jewell.

Klis reports that the team will meet with Jewell’s agent at the upcoming Scouting Combine this week. They will be in communication with any number of the team’s other pending free agents as well, but Klis notes that “there is an affinity for Jewell”, so he is likely to be among Denver’s priorities in March.

A fourth-round pick in 2018, Jewell has emerged as a key contributor to the Broncos’ defense. He played a larger role on special teams than defense in his first two campaigns, though he did make 12 starts during that span. In his third year, he took off, starting all 16 contests and recording 113 tackles, two sacks and four pass breakups.

The 27-year-old was limited to just two games in 2021 due to a torn pectoral muscle. However, as Klis writes, “all signs point to Jewell wanting to stay in Denver”, as he remained part of the team’s day-to-day routine even after the injury. If anything, it could drop the cost for any new deal he signs with Denver.

Besides Jewell, other pending free agents (both restricted and unrestricted) in the middle of the Broncos’ defense include Jonas Griffith, Natrez Patrick, Kenny Young, Alexander Johnsonand Micah KiserThere is plenty of room for overhaul at the position, though it seems at least one member of the linebacker corps could be staying put.

Broncos’ Josey Jewell Done For Year

An MRI confirmed that Broncos linebacker Josey Jewell has a torn pectoral muscle (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). That’ll officially end Jewell’s season so the Broncos will place him on the injured reserve list.

Jewell has emerged as a bright, young standout on Denver’s defense, starting in 30 of his 49 games to date. Last year, he notched 113 tackles, two sacks, four passes defensed, and five tackles for loss in a complete 16-game slate. In 2021, his year will end after just two starts with eight stops, one pass defensed, one forced fumble, and two tackles for loss.

The timing is especially unfortunate as Jewell is in his walk year. The 2018 fourth-round pick is currently on course for unrestricted free agency in the spring. With another healthy year, Jewell would have been in line for a massive payday. Now, he may be looking at a short-term deal in order to reclaim his value.

The Broncos advanced to 2-0 after topping the Jaguars on Sunday. This week, they’ll face the Jets in Denver, sans Jewell.

Broncos RFAs Expected To Draw Interest

Preparing to use their franchise tag on Justin Simmons for a second straight year, the Broncos do not have a high number of unrestricted free agents that would seemingly factor prominently into their big picture. (Though, defensive lineman Shelby Harris would qualify as such a player.)

But Denver does have a few intriguing restricted free agents, and teams are believed to be monitoring a couple of those players’ statuses. Should the Broncos fail to place at least a second-round tender on RFAs Alexander Johnson or Tim Patrick, interest in those contributors will develop quickly, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com notes.

An unusual RFA due to his age, the 29-year-old Johnson has worked as a three-down linebacker with Denver for most of Vic Fangio‘s two seasons. Pro Football Focus has graded Johnson as a top-25 off-ball ‘backer in each of those seasons. Johnson made 124 tackles last season, teaming with Josey Jewell in Denver’s sub-packages. Jewell is going into a contract year.

Despite the Broncos becoming the first team since the 2003 Cardinals to use first- and second-round picks on wideouts in the same draft — in Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler — Patrick led the team with six receiving touchdowns and amassed a career-high 742 receiving yards. The Broncos leaned on their 6-foot-4 ex-UDFA in key spots after Courtland Sutton‘s season-ending injury. Sutton is going into a contract year in 2021.

Should the Broncos place second-round RFA tenders on Johnson and Patrick, they would have the right to match an offer sheet. A refusal to do so would mean a second-round pick coming Denver’s way. Round 2 RFA tenders are expected to come in around $3.3MM, per OverTheCap. The rarely used first-round tender is expected to cost around $4.8MM.

Interestingly, Phillip Lindsay‘s status may be murkier. The Broncos paused extension talks with their Pro Bowl running back last year, giving Melvin Gordon an $8MM-AAV contract instead. It is unclear if Lindsay will receive a second-round tender, per Legwold, or if the Broncos will give the two-time 1,000-yard rusher the right-of-first-refusal tender. The latter scenario would mean the team would receive no compensation if it refused to match a Lindsay offer sheet. A similar situation unfolded five years ago, when the Broncos gave C.J. Anderson the low-end tender but matched a Dolphins offer sheet. Gordon is under contract for 2021, but his DUI arrest and expected suspension leaves the six-year veteran’s $8.9MM cap number vulnerable.

AFC Rumors: Brown, Crowell, Pats, Broncos

Although Joe Flacco interrupted Antonio Brown‘s run as the NFL news cycle’s offseason centerpiece, the Steelers‘ drama with their superstar wide receiver remains the league’s top storyline. After Brown’s trade request, NFL executives believe there may be a significant gap between what the Steelers want to part ways with Brown (and take on a sizable dead-money chunk) and what other teams will pay. One NFL GM believes Pittsburgh, regardless of Brown’s age (31 in July) and off-field trouble, will still want a first-rounder, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. Two other high-ranking execs said, via Fowler, Brown could fetch a Day 2 draft choice, while another predicted a fourth-round pick. Collecting a third- or fourth-round pick for a four-time All-Pro, while taking on more than $20MM in dead money, would be an incredible pill for the Steelers to swallow.

One team that may want Brown may not be able to acquire him, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweeting the Steelers will not trade him to the Patriots in addition to having a predictable stance on an intra-AFC North trade.

Free agency is less than a month away, but teams are making moves in preparation. Here is the latest on this front, along with other AFC news:

  • Already pushing $100MM in cap space, the Jets may move closer to triple digits soon. They plan to release Isaiah Crowell once they agree to terms with a veteran running back, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. Such a release would clear $3MM off New York’s cap. The Jets have been the team most linked to preparing for a Le’Veon Bell run, and Mehta adds Tevin Coleman would be a nice consolation prize. While Crowell signed a three-year, $12MM deal, the Jets would only be on the hook for the remaining $2MM of his signing bonus.
  • With several free agents at wide receiver, the Patriots‘ pass-catching corps is likely to look considerably different next season. However, if Josh Gordon is somehow reinstated, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe expects the RFA to be back in New England (Twitter link). But the Patriots obviously cannot count on that happening. Additionally, the Patriots are not, in fact, paying for Gordon’s rehab. The NFLPA is doing so, Volin adds.
  • Under Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens have been known to prioritize compensatory picks. They may be ready to collect another prime end-of-round draft choice this year. Za’Darius Smith‘s free agency buzz reminds The Athletic’s Jeff Zreibec of what followed Pernell McPhee four years ago as he readied for the market. McPhee left for a big Bears offer. A contract-year wonder, Smith looks headed elsewhere, too, per Zreibec (subscription required), with the Ravens prioritizing four-time Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley and possible skill-position enhancements. Baltimore is about to lose $16MM via its Flacco trade, and it presently holds just $21MM in cap space. So adjustments will need to occur if these roster-bolstering hopes are to be realized.
  • Brandon Marshall is open to restructuring his contract to stay with the Broncos, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic notes (subscription required), but Denver may be set to move on after a six-season partnership. The Broncos re-signed Todd Davis last year and like 2018 fourth-round pick Josey Jewell, who started several games for an injured Marshall last season and would be a cheaper alternative. Denver would save $5MM by releasing Marshall while also being tagged with $4MM in cap charges. A Super Bowl 50 starter, Marshall played all 16 games in 2017 but missed five in both 2016 and ’18.

Broncos Agree To Terms With 7 Draftees

The Broncos made 10 picks in this past draft, and seven of those have agreed to terms on their four-year rookie contracts, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. While Bradley Chubb is not among this group, Denver has the majority of its 2018 class locked in. Here’s the full rundown:

Sutton, though, is under contract now. He’s the most notable draft investment the Broncos have made at wide receiver since Demaryius Thomas in 2010, profiling as a slightly higher-regarded second-round pick than Cody Latimer four years ago. The SMU product is expected to develop behind Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders while potentially working in as a No. 3 wideout this season. Hamilton will attempt to do the same, and the former Nittany Lions standout could well compete with 2017 draftee Carlos Henderson for the Broncos’ slot job — one the franchise has struggled to fill since Wes Welker departed.

Fumagalli will compete for time in an uncertain tight end group, an all-Big Ten-produced contingent featuring intriguing second-year player Jake Butt and thus-far-underwhelming fourth-year man Jeff Heuerman. This shapes up to be an interesting competition. Fellow Big Ten alum Jewell will likely be thrust into work as a special-teamer and reserve behind inside linebackers Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis.

The only Broncos picks still unsigned are Chubb and third-rounders Royce Freeman and Isaac Yiadom.