After beefing up their offensive line, the Chargers are turning their attention to the other side of the ball. On Wednesday, the Bolts reached agreement on a deal with free agent defensive tackle Linval Joseph (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo).
It’s a two-year, $17MM deal for the former Vikings standout. He’ll be able to collect an additional $2MM, too, if he hits certain incentives. Joseph will receive $9.5MM guaranteed, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com, who adds the veteran D-lineman declined a Vikings request for a pay cut (Twitter link).
Earlier this month, the Vikings dropped Joseph after seven seasons with the club. Between his release and the release of cornerback Xavier Rhodes, the Vikes carved out $18MM in cap space. The Chargers, who created room by cutting linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane late last week, were happy to bring Joseph into the fold.
Joseph has often been one of the league’s best defensive tackles, and he made the Pro Bowl in back to back seasons from 2016-17. A second-round pick of the Giants way back in 2010, Joseph turned 31 in October and should have at least a couple more years left in the tank.
The East Carolina product should slide in as an immediate starter with Los Angeles, and the Chargers now quietly have one of the most talented defensive fronts in the league. With Joseph in the middle and stud edge rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa on either side of him, the Chargers will be very hard to block.
Three seasons remained on Xavier Rhodes‘ five-year, $70.1MM contract. Instead, the Vikings will remove that deal from their books in an effort to create cap space.
Minnesota made its expected move Friday, cutting Rhodes, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The Vikings, however, are also releasing defensive tackle Linval Joseph. The former enjoyed a seven-season Twin Cities tenure, while the latter spent six seasons in the middle of Minnesota’s defensive line.
These cuts will create over $18MM in cap space for the Vikings, who entered the day barely $1MM below the projected salary ceiling. This also marks a major shift for the Vikings, who spent years crafting extensions and adding to Mike Zimmer‘s veteran defense. But the team’s payroll, headlined by a fully guaranteed quarterback contract, became flooded with veteran contracts in recent years.
Rhodes’ play had declined considerably, although Joseph remained one of the league’s better interior defenders. The Vikings will need to fill holes at these spots, likely with cheaper and younger cogs. Minnesota has Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander as free agents as well, so the franchise that has drafted three first-round cornerbacks since 2013 will need to have a plan at this priority position.
Joseph, 31, and Rhodes, 29, were two of the best players at their respective positions as recently as 2017. Both made the 2016 and ’17 Pro Bowls, and Joseph graded as one of Pro Football Focus’ top players in both 2015 and ’17. They will head to free agency, with Joseph joining a strong defensive line group.
On a positive note, Joseph has not been placed on injured reserve and Goessling and Krammer cite sources within the organization that are optimistic he will return soon. With their bye coming in Week 12, Goessling and Krammer note the Vikings Week 13 matchup with the Broncos as a possible target date for Joseph’s return.
Here’s more updates from the teams in the AFC and NFC North:
Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway was benched shortly before the team’s game against the Bills for tardiness on Sunday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Cleveland still managed to pull out the 19-16 victory without Callaway, but the offense surely could have benefited from another dynamic receiver on the field. In Cabot’s report, a source told her that Callaway parked in a different lot than usual and arrived a few minutes late.
The Vikings plan to move forward with Dakota Dozier at right guard if starter Josh Kline has to miss more games with a concussion, according to Ben Goessling and Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. Dozier replaced Kline after he left Sunday’s matchup against the Cowboys with concussion like symptoms. Kline was diagnosed with a concussion and is now in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Dozier has already started three games this season along Minnesota’s offensive front.
If the Bears decide to move on from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky this offseason there will be a plethora of strong veteran options, according to Dan Pompei of The Athletic. Pompei details ten signalcallers with varying degrees of past success. While free-agency seems poised to offer more viable options than usual, the play of young quarterbacks around the league has potentially pushed some other established veterans onto the trade market as well. Sitting at 4-5 and in third place in the NFC North, Chicago’s playoff hopes are dwindling by the week. Trubisky, in his third NFL season, has garnered the brunt of the criticism for the team’s underwhelming performance.
The Vikings have shifted their approach to the salary cap in order to preserve their core, ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert writes. Like most teams, the Vikings previously refused to extend players when they had more than one year to go on a deal. This year, they actually went to defensive end Everson Griffen and nose tackle Linval Joseph with early offers.
By changing up their philosophy, the Vikings got cost certainty on two key defensive linemen who were poised to eventually cash in on the open market. Meanwhile, Joseph was happy to trade in some potential financial upside for security.
“This game doesn’t last forever, at the end of the day,” Joseph said. “It was a great opportunity. I felt like I had outplayed my contract. For the Vikings to come to me and try to get something done, I was happy with that.”
Here’s more from Minnesota:
We have details on Joseph’s four-year, $50MM extension, via Mike Florio of PFT. The deal gives Joseph $11.15MM fully guaranteed at signing with $31.5MM guaranteed for injury at signing. The cash flow of the deal (including the previously standing seasons) has Joseph making $26.9MM through 2019, $38.65MM through 2020, $49.9MM through 2021, and $62.4MM through 2022. In terms of “new money” – which is always a tricky metric – Joseph’s $12.5MM annual average makes him the league’s eighth highest-paid defensive tackle.
More teams should look into extending contracts ahead of time like the Vikings did, Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap writes. Meanwhile, he feels that players and agents should be demanding more in scenarios like this. In the case of Joseph, he went from being virtually assured $15.5MM in 2017 and 2018 to getting $19MM, with $15MM of that being fully guaranteed. In essence, Joseph traded in his chance at a free agency payday for a $3.5MM pay bump and no significant guarantees for when the extension actually kicks in.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks, defensive end Danielle Hunter, and wide receiver Stefon Diggs could be next in line for deals since they have 19 months remaining on their current deals, Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune writes. Linebacker Anthony Barr could also be in line for a new deal after the 2018 season, depending on what happens with his $12.3MM fifth-year option. Vikings GM Rick Spielman won’t get into specifics, but it sounds like more extensions could be on the way. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us. There are still some guys that we will be looking at to extend,” Spielman said Sunday. “I don’t know when or where those will take place, but we do have a strategic plan in place.”
The Vikings have once again extended a key member of their defense. According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), the organization has signed defensive tackle Linval Joseph to a four-year, $50MM extension. The deal reportedly contains $31.5MM in guaranteed money.
The 2010 second-round pick has established himself as one of the linchpins of the Vikings defense over the past several years. 2016 was arguably the best season of the 28-year-old’s career, as Joseph compiled career-highs in tackles (77), sacks (four), and forced fumbles (three). Pro Football Focus was particularly fond of his performance, ranking him 14th among 125 qualified interior defensive linemen.
As our own Connor Byrnes noted earlier this week, the Vikings shouldn’t have been in any rush to sign the defensive tackle. Prior to signing this contract, Joseph still had two seasons remaining on the five-year, $31.25 million contract he signed back in 2014. Still, the organization has clearly prioritized locking up their core. Besides signing both Rhodes and Griffen to extensions, the team also extended safety Harrison Smithlast offseason.
The Vikings handed lucrative contract extensions to a pair of defensive linchpins in end Everson Griffen and cornerback Xavier Rhodes last week. Next on the docket is nose tackle Linval Joseph, who has talked about an extension with the team, reports Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. Discussions between the two sides are “ongoing,” per Tomasson, who adds that Joseph wants a deal similar to the four-year, $57.9MM accord the Vikings gave Griffen.
A Griffen-esque payday for Joseph would make him the seventh D-tackle to secure a contract worth upward of $14MM per year, notes Tomasson. Such a deal would put Joseph in company with Ndamukong Suh, Fletcher Cox, Kawann Short, Marcell Dareus, Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson. Joseph hasn’t posted the lofty sack numbers of anyone in that sextet, having tallied 16.5 during his seven-year career, though he did tie a personal best with four last season. The adept run-stuffer also piled up 77 tackles and three forced fumbles during a 16-start 2016, the third such season of his career, and ranked an excellent 14th in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 125 qualified interior defensive linemen.
As great as Joseph has been for the Vikings since they signed the ex-Giant as a free agent prior to the 2014 season, inking him to a new deal isn’t something they absolutely have to do right now. Joseph, 28, still has two seasons remaining on his five-year, $31.25 million contract, and he doesn’t seem to regard securing an extension as a must.
“Whatever happens, happens,’’ Joseph told Tomasson. “If it’s time, it’s time (to get an extension). If not, I’m going to keep grinding.’’
In the event Minnesota does lock up Joseph soon, it’ll be the fourth time the franchise has awarded a big-money deal to a defender in the past year-plus. In June 2016, well before Griffen and Rhodes got their contracts, the Vikings extended safety Harrison Smith. Those three and Joseph are part of an enviable core of defenders that helped Minnesota’s ‘D’ finish toward the top of the NFL in yardage (third), scoring (sixth) and DVOA (eighth) in 2016.
A source informed Tomasson the deal is expected to be in the five-year, $70MM vicinity. That would tie Rhodes to the Vikings through the 2022 season. The cornerback is set to make just more than $8MM on a fifth-year option this season.
We heard earlier this week the Vikings made a “nice offer” to the 27-year-old cornerback, who is entering his contract year. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported the team is willing to make him one of the league’s highest-paid corners.
An assistant coach at Florida State during Rhodes’ time there and a former NFL corner, Terrell Buckley serves as a mentor to Rhodes. He told Tomasson there was a “high probability” Rhodes will sign an extension by the end of the week but is attempting to get a couple of things “squared away” with this Vikes proposal. Buckley added Rhodes “loves” playing for Mike Zimmer and secondary coach Jerry Gray, further pointing to a long Rhodes stay in Minneapolis.
The Vikings rode their defense to a dominant start in 2016, jumping out to a 5-0 mark. Minnesota finished third defensively last season. Barr became extension-eligible after last season, but Kendricks — as a 2015 second-round pick — isn’t yet allowed to sign one until after this season. Joseph has delivered dominant football to the Vikings after they signed him as a UFA from the Giants. He has two years remaining on the five-year, $31.25MM deal he signed in 2014. Joseph is set to make $6.85MM in each of the next two seasons.
Kuhn’s agent, Kevin Gold, has talked with the Packers and other teams about the three-time Pro Bowl fullback, but Silverstein reports no decision is imminent on the eve of Green Bay’s start to its offseason program.
The 33-year-old Kuhn has played 156 games for the Packers, suiting up in green and gold for 10 of his 11 years in the league. Kuhn played ahead of 2015 sixth-rounder Aaron Ripkowski last season and made his third Pro Bowl. The Packers, who are also expected to signDon Barclay on Monday, have $10.6MM in cap space currently.
A Division II product, Kuhn has been in this situation in recent years. Despite Kuhn being the fullback on the 2014 All-Pro first team, the Packers were able to re-sign him for the league minimum last April after agreeing to a similar one-year pact in advance of the ’14 season. Kuhn played in 23.4% of the offensive snaps last season, per Silverstein.
Here’s the latest coming out of the Packers’ top rivals’ camps.
This season will almost certainly be Chad Greenway‘s Vikings farewell tour, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The 33-year-old outside linebacker signed a one-year, $2.75MM deal (with $750K guaranteed) to remain in Minnesota for an 11th season recently. “I have sort of that direction that, yeah, I want to walk away a Minnesota Viking in sort of on my own terms,” Greenway told media Sunday, including Tomasson. “Few NFL players get to do that and have the opportunity to do that. This organization and my career has allowed me to do that and kind of be in the situation.” Greenway has started 140 regular-season and playoff games with the Vikings since being taken by the team in Round 1 of the 2006 draft. He remains the favorite to start alongside Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks this season.
Linval Joseph has nearly recovered fully from the turf toe that shelved the emerging defensive tackle late last season, Ben Goessling of ESPN.com tweets. Pro Football Focus’ best interior defender not named Aaron Donald or J.J. Watt, Joseph missed four Vikings games with the malady last season.
The Vikings do not expect Adrian Peterson to attend the start of voluntary portion of their offseason workouts Monday, Tomasson reports. Peterson has been training near his home in Houston and rarely shows for the start of these gatherings.
Shaq Lawson drew a lofty comparison during his Lions workout, according to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com (on Twitter). During one drill, Lions defensive line coach Kris Kocurek told the former Clemson pass-rusher during an explosiveness drill he’d only seen one player flash more during that particular drill, 2014 No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. Lawson accumulated 45.5 tackles for loss in his three years at Clemson, 24.5 last season — his only as a starter.