Josh Allen (QB)

Injury Updates: Dobbins, Allen, Cardinals

J.K. Dobbins sat out the first two games of the season, started for four weeks, and then landed on injured reserve. When Dobbins was knocked out by knee surgery in mid-October, it was thought that the Ravens running back had suffered another knee injury. However, the second-year pro made it clear that the surgery was precautionary and intended to remedy lingering effects from his earlier surgery.

“I didn’t get reinjured,” Dobbins told WBJ in Baltimore (via NFL Network’s Mike Giardi on Twitter). “I didn’t hurt myself or anything. I just didn’t feel like myself… there was some stuff in my knee that was making me not feel like myself. It wasn’t bad, I could have still played … but I’d rather be 100 percent going into the playoffs towards the end of the year so I could really do what I really need to do to help the team win.”

Following a rookie campaign that saw him finish with more than 900 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns, Dobbins collected 162 yards and two touchdowns this season before landing on injured reserve. As Gus Edwards continues to nurse a hamstring injury, the Ravens have leaned on Kenyan Drake to lead the RB room.

More injury notes from around the NFL…

  • While it sounds like Josh Allen won’t be forced to miss any time with his elbow injury, the Bills quarterback will be on a strict recovery plan for the foreseeable future. Allen told reporters that Buffalo’s training staff has him “on a specific plan that we’ll follow,” and CBS’s Jonathan Jones assumes that the quarterback will continue to be limited in practice going forward (Twitter link). Allen did acknowledge that his right elbow will eventually get back to normal, so there shouldn’t be any lingering concerns about his outlook moving forward.
  • Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray said he originally injured his hamstring in Week 8 against the Vikings, played through the injury, and then tweaked his hamstring in Week 9, per ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss on Twitter. Colt McCoy got the start for Arizona in Week 10, and while Murray acknowledged that he’s feeling better, he’s still unsure of his status for Monday night’s game against the 49ers.
  • Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. While we don’t know any specifics surrounding the injury, coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters that the veteran will undergo surgery (per Weinfuss on Twitter). Ertz totaled 406 yards and four touchdowns on 47 receptions in 2022 before getting sidelined. The veteran inked a three-year, $31.65MM contract with the Cardinals this past offseason.
  • Leonard Fournette suffered a hip pointer last weekend, but the Buccaneers running back isn’t expected to miss any time following the team’s Week 11 bye, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Rookie Rachaad White got an extended look filling in for Fournette, finishing with 22 carries for 105 yards.
  • Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker told reporters that he’s still dealing with an ankle injury suffered in Week 1 that forced him to miss four games. “I’m not at 100%, no,” the veteran said (via Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star). “I mean, if I was at 100%, I’d be doing full steps on my kickoffs or going back to the 10 yards and everything.” Butker has struggled in the five games he’s played in 2022, connecting on only 62.5 percent of his field goal attempts. He’s also missed a pair of extra point tries over the past two weeks.

Bills Elevate CB Xavier Rhodes, RB Duke Johnson From Practice Squad; No QB Elevated

Two veterans that have been stashed on the Bills practice squad are set to make their season debuts for the team this week. Buffalo has elevated cornerback Xavier Rhodes and running back Duke Johnson for this weekend’s matchup against the Vikings.

The Bills are extremely deep at cornerback, but an injury to first-round rookie Kaiir Elam has him currently listed as doubtful going into Sunday. With Elam out, Dane Jackson would be expected to start opposite Tre’Davious White at cornerback, with Taron Johnson and Siran Neal providing key snaps off the bench. That’s still a reliable amount of depth but adding the veteran Rhodes will provide the Bills with just a bit more security if Elam can’t play.

This has been an interestingly quiet season for Rhodes, who started at least 13 games in every season dating back to his sophomore season before this year. The longtime shutdown cornerback for the Vikings spent two years doing more of the same in Indianapolis before signing to the Bills practice squad in the offseason. After eight years as a fulltime starter, coming in off the practice squad is an unfamiliar role for the 32-year-old.

The Bills traded for another former Colt in running back Nyheim Hines at the deadline in an attempt to bring in a back who can catch passes out of the backfield, something that the team was lacking with Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, and James Cook. The elevation of Johnson from the practice squad may indicate that Hines is not totally comfortable enough with the playbook to take hold of that role yet.

Johnson spent the majority of his career as one of the league’s premier pass-catching running backs. Over his career, Johnson has more receiving yards (2,870) than rushing yards (2,261). He’s an effective weapon, even at 29-years-old, that the Bills have kept stashed on the practice squad all year. Johnson was given an opportunity to start for a depleted Dolphins team last year and rewarded them with two 100-yard rushing performances and three touchdowns in four starts.

Many, including NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, noted that Buffalo was not elevating quarterback Matt Barkley, indicating that the team is confident that starter Josh Allen will be able to play after sustaining an elbow sprain last week. Allen had been limited in practice this week but was able to grip the ball and provide enough for the Bills staff to show that he can start.

Latest On Josh Allen’s Status; Jordan Poyer, Greg Rousseau Out For Week 10

The prime catalyst for the Bills’ recent rise, Josh Allen has not missed a game since Week 10 of the 2018 season. That particular Bills campaign — a rebuilding year centered around the quarterback they traded up twice in Round 1 to draft — did not present high stakes, allowing for considerable caution with Allen.

The landscape is different this year, leading to Allen’s latest elbow injury receiving more attention. Allen’s practice week ended up going DNP-DNP-limited, with CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson noting the Bills signed off on a limitation-gauging Friday session (Twitter link). He received the vague questionable injury designation. The superstar quarterback is battling a UCL sprain.

While Allen played through the injury to finish the Jets matchup, this issue also affects nerves — thus, the fifth-year passer’s ability to grip the football — and we have a past indicator of how the Bills handled this injury. Allen, 26, expressed confidence he can play through his latest bout of elbow trouble; it remains to be seen if the Bills will allow that to happen. Concern exists Allen could tear the oft-discussed (in baseball circles) ligament, Armando Salguero of Outkick.com notes. A Tommy John surgery could sideline Allen into next season.

The Bills shut down Allen for four games because of a UCL injury in 2018; the Wyoming talent ended up sitting five weeks due to Buffalo’s bye falling in that recovery window. Allen missing that much time this year may not be in play just yet, with Sean McDermott indicating (via The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia, on Twitter) the team is taking it “one hour at a time” with its centerpiece player.

With a top-tier roster that has pushed the Bills to the Super Bowl contender tier, the team has a better insurance option compared to 2018 as well. Buffalo sent a seventh-round pick (No. 246 overall) to Cleveland for Case Keenum. The 11th-year QB has made 64 career starts, with six teams, since 2013.

Keenum’s most notable year came with the Vikings in 2017, when he led the NFL in quarterback DVOA and — on a one-year, $2MM deal — piloted Minnesota to the NFC championship game. Keenum, 34, is attached to a $3.5MM salary this season. His contract expires after 2022. Although Keenum gives the Bills a decent backup option against the Vikings, the talent gulf between Buffalo’s first- and second-stringers is obviously wide.

The Bills will also be without Jordan Poyer for a second straight week, and second-year defensive end Greg Rousseau will miss Week 10 as well. An ankle injury sustained last week will shelve Rousseau, with cornerback Kaiir Elam also given a doubtful designation. Some good news for Buffalo’s No. 1-ranked scoring defense also emerged this week. Matt Milano is expected to return, Buscaglia tweets. The high-end linebacker missed Week 9 with an oblique issue. The Bills activated Tre’Davious White off the PUP list last week, and while the team’s top corner does not have a Week 10 injury designation, McDermott did not guarantee he would debut Sunday. White has not played since suffering an ACL tear on Thanksgiving 2021.

Josh Allen Confident In Week 10 Availability; QB’s Elbow Injury Not Serious?

Josh Allen is not practice Wednesday with the Bills, and the elbow injury he sustained against the Jets has his Week 10 availability in doubt. This matter has certainly overshadowed everything else Bills-related over the past few days, but the MVP candidate may not need to miss any time.

Allen is believed to be dealing with a UCL injury, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen, who adds potential nerve damage is also an issue here (Twitter link). UCL injuries are commonly associated with Tommy John surgery, a procedure known to shelve pitchers for more than a year. But that is not believed to be in play here.

This is a UCL sprain, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link), and not believed to be a major setback. Allen has dealt with this before, and NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo tweets the fifth-year passer is confident he will be available to face the Vikings in Week 10. That said, Rapoport adds this current issue could affect Allen’s ability to grip the football. That certainly throws a wrench into plans on an immediate return, and the Bills are proceeding cautiously to start their practice week.

Allen has not missed a game since his 2018 rookie season, but those four absences were due to a UCL injury. The Bills have Case Keenum in place as their backup, having traded a Day 3 pick to the Browns for the veteran signal-caller. Considering Allen’s history, it would not surprise if the Bills were forced to start Keenum for perhaps multiple games.

When Allen last dealt with this issue, it hovered as a much lower-profile NFL storyline. The former No. 7 overall pick has since vaulted into one of the league’s top players, doing the most to elevate the Bills from a rebuilding team into a Super Bowl frontrunner. A wide talent gap exists between Allen and Keenum, but the 34-year-old backup has played the replacement role to notable acclaim. Keenum led the NFL in quarterback DVOA in 2017, replacing Sam Bradford and piloting a strong Vikings roster to a No. 2 seed and the NFC championship game. The recent Browns backup, who went 2-0 as a Cleveland starter in his two Ohio seasons, likely still represents quality insurance should the Bills shut down Allen for a bit.

This could still obviously impact Buffalo’s pursuit of its first No. 1 seed since 1993. The Chiefs moved into a tie with the Bills in Week 9, though Buffalo holds the tiebreaker here. The Bills face the Browns and Lions in Weeks 11 and 12, with the Detroit game coming on Thanksgiving.

This Date In Transactions History: Bills Trade Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby

A few transactions keyed the Bills’ rise from perennial regular-season-only team to one that has been on the Super Bowl contender tier in the 2020s, but August 11, 2017 represents a fairly important date on the franchise’s timeline.

On this day five years ago, the Bills swung two trades. Those deals, one in particular, helped the franchise transform its position in the NFL hierarchy. Shortly before noon CT that day, the Rams acquired Sammy Watkins and a 2018 sixth-round pick in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick and cornerback E.J. Gaines. Minutes later, word emerged that the Eagles had obtained Ronald Darby for a third-round pick and wide receiver Jordan Matthews.

Both Watkins and Darby were Bills starters brought in during Doug Whaley‘s run as general manager, the former as a 2014 first-round pick and the latter via the 2015 second round. The Bills traded up to No. 4 for Watkins in 2014, but the injury concerns that have largely defined the talented pass catcher’s career showed up early. The team got out early on Darby, who had two years remaining on his rookie contract at the time of the trade.

Both have since bounced around the league, though each has made key contributions post-Buffalo. Watkins elevated his value on Sean McVay‘s first Rams team, playing a career-high 15 games in 2017. This led to his signing a then-startling $16MM-per-year Chiefs deal in 2018 and helping Kansas City to back-to-back Super Bowls. Darby started for the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII-winning team in his first Philadelphia season. He has since signed deals with Washington and Denver. The Bills, however, used the trades to position themselves for a quick ascent under Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane.

Armed with the two additional Day 2 picks, Beane maneuvered to land the team’s next franchise centerpiece in his first draft as GM. In a rare two-pronged move up the first-round board, the Bills began their April 2018 odyssey by acquiring the No. 12 overall pick. To do so, they packaged veteran left tackle Cordy Glenn in a pre-draft deal with the Bengals. That move featured Glenn, Buffalo’s No. 21 pick and a 2018 fifth-round choice going to Cincinnati for No. 12 and a 2018 sixth. On draft night, Beane flipped the No. 12 selection to the Buccaneers for No. 7. To move into the top 10, the Bills included the pick they obtained for Watkins (No. 56). They traded Nos. 12, 53 and 56 to Tampa Bay for the slot that became Josh Allen, the third quarterback selected in 2018’s five-QB first round.

With the pick from the Darby deal, the Bills chose defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, who became a four-year contributor and part-time starter. Phillips left in free agency this year to sign with the Vikings. Although Matthews and Gaines did not contribute much in Buffalo, the Allen acquisition obviously changed the franchise’s course.

Despite hurting their 2017 roster by dealing away Darby and Watkins, the Bills made a surprise playoff bid that season. While 2018 featured a considerable step back, the team has qualified for the past three AFC brackets. Allen has since become one of the NFL’s top players, leading the team to the 2020 AFC championship game and into the 2021 divisional round. He is locked in through 2028 via a six-year, $258MM extension. This year’s Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson and Kyler Murray deals have bumped Allen’s contract down to fifth among quarterbacks.

Lamar Jackson Holds Power In Negotiations

If you’ve been following the contract negotiation updates between the Ravens and star quarterback Lamar Jackson, you’ve been hearing about a young kid without proper representation lackadaisically going through “unusual” procedures. Well, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, those plugged into the situation believe Jackson is in far more control than has been illustrated

Baltimore has reportedly presented offers to the 25 year-old focusing on term rather than annual average. Even so, long-term in this situation is being defined as five years or more. These long-term offers to Jackson apparently value in the realm of $35MM per year. In either respect, it doesn’t sound like the offers compare to those of fellow star quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes (10-year, $45MM aav) or Josh Allen (6-year, $43.01MM aav). General manager Eric DeCosta has repeatedly stated that, when Jackson wants to talk, he’s ready to work towards a deal.

Casual observers have frequently made comments that it would be much more prudent for Jackson to allow an agent to move forward with negotiations that could land him a deal worthy of his talents while allowing him to focus on his play. Jackson has confidence he can do both, and those casual observers may come to agree if they learn what Jackson is aiming for.

According to La Canfora’s sources, Jackson isn’t looking at Mahomes and Allen when thinking about his options moving forward, Jackson is looking at Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins, who is not considered on the same level as Mahomes, Allen, and Jackson, played out his rookie contract, played out two franchise tags, then captured a fully-guaranteed, three-year deal worth $84MM.

If Jackson follows this route, he is set to earn $23.02MM in the 2022 NFL season. This year’s franchise tag value for quarterbacks is set at $28.6MM. It will be adjusted, and likely increased, next year and the year after. Plus, when a player receives a franchise tag for the second year in a row, instead of getting paid the value of the tag, they are paid 120% of its value. So, to illustrate the inherent value there, if the franchise tag numbers were to stay the same over the next two years (they won’t), Jackson’s next three seasons would pay out $23.02MM, $28.6MM, and $34.32MM respectively. Following that, Jackson would be a former-MVP quarterback on the market before he turns 30, an extremely rare commodity.

If Cousins was able to leverage that situation into a three-year, $84MM deal, think what Jackson could earn. Jackson is obviously worth more than Cousins’ $28MM per year and over a short-term deal Jackson could net an even higher average still. Not to mention that every year, the market increases. With gambling money pouring in and record media deals paying dividends, NFL contracts continue to skyrocket. Cousins’ deal was made in 2018. In 2025, a top-tier quarterback may be able to earn up to $50MM per year if contract numbers continue to climb.

Allowing Lamar to carry those cap numbers over the next three years could truly hamper the Ravens’ ability to surround him with talent. The way Jackson sees it, he is betting on himself in the short-term but sees an opportunity to cash in either way. He has placed himself in an enviable position that tells Baltimore they don’t have to pay him what he’s asking for, but, if they don’t, it won’t do their cap space any favors.

Expect for Jackson to continue waiting patiently for a deal he can’t say “no” to. Until then, Jackson will continue to focus on his play. As long as he stays healthy and continues to perform at the level he’s shown he can, Jackson is due for a payday regardless of when a deal gets made.

Contract Details: Allen, Alexander, McCoy, Barkley

Let’s catch up on the details of some of the high-profile contracts given out recently:

  • Josh Allen grabbed all the headlines by inking his mega-extension with the Bills. In an interesting piece, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com breaks down how it compares to the huge deal Patrick Mahomes recently signed with the Chiefs. For starters, Allen got a $16.5MM signing bonus, while Mahomes only got $10MM. Further, “the early cash flow for Allen is vastly superior to the Mahomes contract,” Florio writes. That’s because Mahomes’ deal is more back-loaded, while Allen is for example due $47MM in the second year of the pact. Mahomes’ contract is still worth more annually, but only because of the extra years at the end that his has. Through the first eight seasons of their respective deals, the compensation is nearly identical. Allen will clear $284.55MM through eight years, while Mahomes will get $285.33MM through the first eight years of his.
  • Last week the Saints agreed to terms on a one-year deal with linebacker Kwon Alexander, and now we have all the financials. We heard at the time it was worth “up to” $3MM. It turns out to have a base value of only $1.127MM, not too much above the minimum for a player with his service time, Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football tweets. He got $387.5K in guaranteed money. Alexander will get another $200K if he plays 50% of the snaps in 13 games, another $300K for 15 games, and another $400K for 17 games. He also has another $972K in other unspecified playing time incentives. New Orleans cut him back in March to save $13MM in cap space, so even if Alexander hits all his incentives he’ll have taken a fairly hefty pay-cut. That’s unfortunately what happens when you’re coming off an Achilles tear like Alexander is. He started all seven games that he played for the Saints last year before going down.
  • Alexander wasn’t the only big name defensive player to sign last week, as defensive tackle Gerald McCoy also latched on with the Raiders. His one-year deal with Las Vegas is worth up to $2MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. He got a signing bonus of $150K and also has incentives worth $750K. The six-time Pro Bowler missed all of 2020 with a torn quad. Once one of the best interior linemen in the league, he turned 33 back in February.
  • Matt Barkley resurfaced with the Titans to give them some insurance behind Ryan Tannehill, and he got $1.1MM on a one-year deal, Rapoport notes in the same tweet. Rapsheet didn’t specify, but it seems unlikely that much if any of it was guaranteed. Tennessee apparently wasn’t happy with only having Logan Woodside behind Tannehill. Shortly after signing Barkley, they released Deshone Kizer. Woodside and Barkley will now battle it out for clipboard-holding duties.

Bills GM On Josh Allen Extension

It took a little while, but the Bills have locked up Josh Allen for years to come. On Saturday, the young quarterback agreed to a six-year contract extension worth $258MM with $150MM in overall guarantees. Perhaps more importantly, Allen got $100MM fully guaranteed at signing — the highest in NFL history. 

[RELATED: Bills, Allen Agree To $258MM Deal]

I felt like at some point soon we were either really going to push to get this done or it was going to be a standstill,” GM Brandon Beane told Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic. “You can hit some points where you both just step away and say, ‘We’re not going to talk about this for a little while.’”

The most recent standstill occurred less than a week ago. On August 1st, it was reported that the Bills and Allen had zero momentum towards a new deal. Then, on August 6, Allen put pen to paper. Under normal circumstances, Beane says, the contract would have been inked much sooner.

We built a team that was planning on the cap being 215 or 220 (million), but the cap went back to what it was two years ago when (Carson) Wentz and (Jared) Goff were done,” Beane said. “They might have been able to do something in the first year that we couldn’t do just because of where we’re at. If COVID hadn’t happened, I truly believe this would have gotten done before we started training camp. I just think there were some things that were hard for them. They’re a big firm. Anything they do, they’re worried about precedent. And anything we do we’re worried about our precedent. That can get sticky.”

As head coach Sean McDermott puts it, the deal was “a leap of faith” for both parties. Allen will carry $40MM+ hits against the Bills annual cap, but that’s the price they had to pay for one of the game’s most promising young QBs. Besides, he’ll be joined at the top by his counterparts — Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson may soon knock Allen off of his highest-paid perch.

Bills Sign Josh Allen To $258MM Extension

It’s a done deal. On Friday, the Bills signed Josh Allen to a six-year contract extension. The deal is worth $258MM in total with $150MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). That includes $100M fully guaranteed upon signing, the largest in the history of the sport (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport).

Allen is now signed through the 2028 season with a deal to reflect his performance. Last year, the 25-year-old set the Bills’ single-season franchise records for touchdown passes (37), completions (396), completion rate (69.2), passing yards (4,544), and total TDs (46). If not for Aaron Rodgers‘ even more impressive season, Allen would have been the NFL’s 2020 MVP.

The forthcoming details of the deal will reveal Allen’s true standing among the league’s highest-paid QBs. However, it’s expected that the deal will include a team-friendly structure to help the Bills’ cap situation in the short term. He seems to have leapfrogged Cowboys star Dak Prescott in both average annual value and guarantees — Prescott’s four-year, $160MM pact puts him at $40MM per year with $126MM in guaranteed cash.

The Bills did well to lock up Allen before other QBs got their deals. Of the three quarterbacks who have landed on the extension radar this offseason — Allen, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield — Allen is coming off the best season. He didn’t start his pro career quite like Jackson or Mayfield, but he has steadily improved, leading up to last year’s dominant showing.

Allen, fresh off Second Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections, now ranks as one of the highest-paid players in NFL history.

“No Momentum” In Contract Talks Between Bills, Josh Allen

The Bills and star QB Josh Allen are talking extension, but as of right now, there is no momentum towards an agreement, as Kim Jones of the NFL Network reports (Twitter link). However, Allen himself is not sweating it, calling his contract situation the “least of my worries.”

That is because Allen knows it’s a question of when, not if, he gets his mega-deal. Jones suggests that, if a new contract is not in place by the middle of August, the two sides could table negotiations until next offseason, but that scenario would hardly threaten Allen’s future in Buffalo. Because the Bills have exercised Allen’s fifth-year option, the big-armed passer is under contract through 2022, and the franchise tag is a theoretical option for 2023 if it comes to that (of course, the Cowboys’ protracted talks with Dak Prescott demonstrated the danger of that approach).

Allen has expressed a willingness to give the Bills a team-friendly structure on his second pro contract, but that doesn’t mean he will be willing to take a discount. He is in line to eclipse Prescott’s four-year, $160MM pact, which includes $126MM in guaranteed money. A deal of that magnitude certainly is a complex undertaking, though the Bills and Allen have plenty of time to continue discussing it.

As our Ben Levine detailed last month, Allen might prefer to get something done sooner rather than later. After all, it’s hard to imagine him improving on his incredible 2020 campaign, and while draftmate Lamar Jackson might drive Allen’s price a little higher if Jackson signs his extension first, it’s unlikely to make too much of an impact. And an earlier report noted that Allen is willing to operate independently of Jackson and Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield, suggesting that Allen is indeed prepared to put pen to paper before his fellow young signal-callers.

On the other hand, we don’t know the type of offer the Bills have on the table at this point — maybe they’re trying to keep the price down by pointing to Allen’s inconsistencies in 2018-19. And if they’re not willing to give up Prescott money just yet, Allen could continue to wait them out.