The NFL announced their 2023 Pro Bowl rosters this evening. Besides the ability to list the accolade on their career resume (plus the monetary bonus that comes from participating in and winning the game), many players had a financial incentive for wanting a Pro Bowl nod. We’ve collected some of the notable Pro Bowl contract incentives below, most via ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter (unless noted).
Geno Smith‘s contract bonus came via a specific incentive that required not only Pro Bowl recognition but 20 touchdown passes, according to Yates (on Twitter). Smith hit that TD mark back in Week 13. The impending free agent is set to cash in following a breakout campaign during his age-32 season.
Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard has a more complex bonus worked into his contract. According to CBS Sports’ Joel Corry (on Twitter), Howard is one step closer to earning a $1MM bonus thanks to his Pro Bowl nod, but he’ll also need Miami to improve in either wins, points allowed, TDs allowed, total defense, interceptions, average net yards allowed per rushing play, or turnover margin.
Speaking of the Dolphins, the organization saved a chunk of future money since one of their players didn’t make the Pro Bowl roster. As Daniel Oyefusi of the Miami Herald tweets, Tua Tagovailoa‘s fifth-year option would have increased from $22MM to $28MM if he earned a Pro Bowl nod.
Even in the quietest part of the offseason, there were still some significant developments around the NFL. Here’s a quick rundown of the week’s top headlines:
Watson Hearing Concludes: The top offseason storyline in the league reached another critical stage, as the hearing presided over by Sue Robinson concluded after three days. Her decision on whether Browns QB Deshaun Watson will be suspended – and if so, for how long – will be the next step in this process, and could be delayed by a matter of weeks. Any appeals process (which would be administered by commissioner Roger Goodell or his appointee) would then follow, and have drastic consequences on Watson, the Browns and, given the precedent it could set, any players who find themselves in a similar situation in the future.
McLaurin Signs Extension WithCommanders: The offseason was building towards Terry McLaurin signing a lucrative extension in Washington, and he did just that by inking a three-year deal. The pact carries an average annual value of $23.3MM, and includes a signing bonus of $28MM. With the new contract in hand, McLaurin will see significant guaranteed money, while still being eligible for another significant deal at the age of 30.
Mayfield Dispels Talk Of Browns Reconciliation: With a Watson suspension looming, many have pointed to Baker Mayfieldas the Browns’ best QB option in 2022. He remains on the roster, as trade talks have sputtered throughout the offseason, but the fences between himself and the team still aren’t likely to be mended. “I think it’s pretty obvious the mutual decision on both sides is to move on,” he said, when asked about the possibility of rescinding his trade request to play out the final year of his contract in Cleveland. Finding a trade partner could still remain challenging for the team, though.
49ers Nearing Samuel Extension?: With McLaurin (and fellow 2019 draftee A.J. Brown) having signed big-money extensions, attention will turn even more so to the 49ers and Deebo Samuel. It was reported that, as trade talk cools around the highly-productive ‘wide-back,’ the team is “expected to continue working toward” a new deal with Samuel. In that event, he could find himself under contract by training camp later this month, presumably joining the $20MM-per-year WR club as many others have already done this offseason along the way.
Texans Facing First Watson Suit: The civil litigation filed against Watson has been well-documented, and, even after 20 of those suits were settled, will remain a significant storyline into, quite possibly, next offseason. Another development related his case, though, was the news that the first lawsuit related to his conduct while with the Texans was filed against the franchise itself. A statement from plaintiff’s attorney Tony Buzbee suggested that many others could follow, claiming that “the overwhelming evidence collected indicating that the Houston Texans enabled Watson’s behavior is incredibly damning.”
A slight alternative to the starting scenarios was proposed earlier this week by Cam Inman of The San Jose Mercury News. He agrees that Dennard and Womack seem to be going head-to-head for the nickel-back role, but posits that, should neither cornerback seize the starting opportunity, San Francisco could formulate a rotation that would see Moseley shift inside and Thomas come in to cover the outside.
If Dennard and Womack can’t convince the coaches that they’re more valuable to have on the field than Thomas, the above situation could unfold. It makes sense that the 49ers would want the best three defenders on the field and could utilize other cornerback combinations to take advantage of specific matchups.
Here are a couple of other rumors from out of the NFC West, starting with a note out of Glendale:
A little over two weeks ago, the Cardinals signed two former Chiefs’ defenders in cornerback Josh Jackson and linebacker Ben Niemann. The two have had diametrically contradicting career paths with the former second-round pick, Jackson, slowly falling into obscurity while the former undrafted free agent, Niemann has earned more and more responsibility each year he’s been in the league. Both of their contracts, though, will be worth the league minimum, according to Sports Illustrated’s Howard Balzer. While that’s a hard pill to swallow for Jackson after the high expectations that came with his draft position, Niemann is likely grateful to be heading into his fifth year of NFL football for the second team to give him an opportunity after initially going undrafted.
Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalfhas been pushing the organization for a new contract lately. The 24-year-old is set to head into the last year of his rookie contract and, while he does want to get paid, he’s also providing the Seahawks a head start on the rest of the league on what would be his eventual free agency. While Metcalf is looking at recent deals like that of his former college teammate, A.J. Brown, the absolute floor of Metcalf’s hypothetical extension was set this week when the Commanders extended star receiver Terry McLaurin, Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus writes. Kyed justifies the opinion, saying that, while PFF grades Metcalf slightly lower than McLaurin, Metcalf is over two years younger and has produced at a slightly higher level than McLaurin over their first three years in the league. Whether or not Metcalf undoubtedly deserves more than McLaurin, McLaurin’s new deal sets an intriguing bar as extension talks continue in Seattle.
Amid an explosive offseason at the wide receiver position, another major domino is falling. The Commanders and Terry McLaurin agreed to terms on a three-year extension Tuesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).
Washington is giving its top target a contract worth up to $71MM, Schefter notes, with a receiver-high $28MM signing bonus (Twitter link). In terms of average annual value, the Commanders went to $23.3MM for the fourth-year standout, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
The Commanders are guaranteeing 76.4% of the contract, per Schefter, giving the Ohio State alum long-term security and the chance to cash in again in the not-too-distant future. While McLaurin will be protected against injury, the signing bonus represents most of his full guarantee. This deal includes $34.6MM guaranteed at signing Rapoport tweets. That figure ranks just 14th among wideouts, but Washington will add to that total with $12.5MM more becoming guaranteed in March 2023.
A lengthy negotiation that included McLaurin stepping away from the team’s offseason activities for weeks — headlined by a minicamp absence — keyed a resolution. This conclusion will certainly have a significant effect on the rapidly shifting wideout market. AAV-wise, McLaurin, 26, becomes the NFL’s seventh-highest-paid receiver. But the former third-round pick’s deal creates a clear divide between No. 7 and No. 8 (D.J. Moore, who signed a $20.6MM-per-year deal earlier this offseason). Considering McLaurin, Moore and Mike Williams (also extended at $20MM AAV this year) each have no Pro Bowl invites on their respective resumes, McLaurin scoring this deal represents a win.
By agreeing to a three-year accord, McLaurin will be signed through the 2025 season. He will turn 30 that year. Should the Commanders want to continue with McLaurin for the late 2020s, he could have the back end of his prime to factor into those prospective negotiations. For now, however, another of the 2019 receiver draftees has scored a big payday. Deebo Samuel, D.K. Metcalf and Diontae Johnson will be interested observers. Samuel and Metcalf figure to target A.J. Brown‘s Eagles deal (four years, $100MM), but McLaurin’s re-up figures to be of particular interest to Johnson’s camp.
Talks during the minicamp McLaurin missed failed to produce a deal, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter) the two parties backed off for a bit. Tuesday represented the breakthrough. Ron Rivera expressed optimism for a 2022 McLaurin deal on multiple occasions this offseason, and the third-year Commanders HC added that the team would not trade its premier aerial threat. Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew stuck to those guns and have an intriguing receiver duo for the long haul. Both McLaurin and first-round wideoutJahan Dotsonare signed through 2025. Dotson can be kept through 2026 on a fifth-year option.
Washington did not receive much from Curtis Samuel last season, with injuries interrupting the former Buckeye’s D.C. debut. But the ex-Panther is tied to a hefty contract as well — three years, $34.5MM. The McLaurin and Samuel contracts, along with the team’s Dotson investment, represent a lofty commitment to the receiver position ahead of Carson Wentz‘s first Washington season. Wentz’s set of Washington weaponry certainly appears to outflank, depth-wise, the troops he played with in Indianapolis. Given the injury problems the Eagles dealt with at receiver during the latter half of Wentz’s Philadelphia tenure, Washington’s seemingly well-rounded trio provides an interesting opportunity for the 29-year-old passer.
Through three McLaurin seasons, Washington struggled to assemble complementary help for its No. 1 weapon. But the 6-foot target kept producing. McLaurin has averaged more yards per game than Metcalf over the course of his career (67.2) and is riding back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. McLaurin doing so with a host of quarterbacks — from college teammate Dwayne Haskins to a near-the-end Alex Smith to Taylor Heinicke — should give the Commanders confidence the production will continue with Wentz.
The team may be moving forward in this process. The Commanders are intensifying their efforts to extend McLaurin, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com noted during a Monday appearance on Get Up, adding the team is aiming to have a deal done by training camp. Since McLaurin skipped minicamp, talks sparked to the point the Commanders are “upping their proposals,” Fowler adds (via Bleacher Report).
Although the team keeps pushing, its efforts have not swayed the fourth-year wideout. The Commanders attempted to hammer out a deal last week, Fowler added (via NBC Sports Washington’s Ethan Cadeaux, on Twitter), with the hopes of even getting him to minicamp. McLaurin’s side did not budge, and no deal is imminent.
This contract may be trickier than the $25MM-per-year agreement the Eagles reached with A.J. Brown, though that pact certainly will not help the Commanders. McLaurin does not yet have a Pro Bowl invite, separating him from Brown, Deebo Samuel and D.K. Metcalf. But he does have three 900-plus-yard receiving seasons and has averaged more receiving yards per game (67.2) than Metcalf (64.7). McLaurin, 26, is undoubtedly pushing for an accord north of $20MM per year, as fellow zero-time Pro Bowlers Mike Williams and D.J. Moore scored this offseason.
A McLaurin deal would help create a price range for Samuel, Metcalf and Diontae Johnson, though it is not certain if the latter — who has yet to be offered an extension — is on the Steelers’ second-contract radar. With Christian Kirk having scored an $18MM-AAV deal in March, Washington will need to be prepared to pay more than $20MM on average. McLaurin has not just led Washington in receiving over the past three seasons; he has done so by wide margins. The most notable gap came in 2021, when McLaurin’s 1,053 yards were 656 better than the team’s second-most productive pass catcher.
The Terry McLaurin situation in Washington has escalated to the point the fourth-year wide receiver is not at the team’s minicamp. McLaurin’s absence, along with the rapidly rising receiver market, has led Ron Rivera to continue addressing this rather key topic.
“We’re not trading Terry,” Rivera said, via NBC Sports Washington’s Peter Hailey. “We’ve been talking with his folks probably the last week and we’re working on some stuff. Hopefully, it’ll be taken care of in a matter of time. How much time? Don’t know. But it’s never contentious, I can promise you that. We’re feeling pretty good and pretty confident that this’ll get done.”
Trades have been a frequent topic during this historically potent wideout offseason. Trade-and-extension sequences involving Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill reset the receiver market, leading to the glut of fourth-year players to take notice. This preceded the Titans — after beginning negotiations with A.J. Brown this offseason and both Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson indicating Brown would be a long-term Tennessee weapon — trading their No. 1 receiver to the Eagles on draft night.
Even before Brown was dealt, Deebo Samuel requested a trade out of San Francisco. D.K. Metcalf trade rumors swirled ahead of the draft as well, and the Seahawks’ fourth-year pass catcher stayed away from his team’s minicamp. McLaurin has not been connected to being moved. Rivera attempting to stop any rumors in their tracks makes sense, though other coaches and GMs ensured their top wideouts would not be dealt — only to see trades transpire soon after. Brown is now tied to a $25MM-per-year contract that includes a receiver-most $56MM fully guaranteed. McLaurin, 26, should not be expected to top that. But the former third-round pick should be expected to eclipse $20MM per year — a range the Titans did not enter during Brown talks — on his next deal.
Washington has McLaurin under contract through 2022; the 2023 franchise tag option would loom if no extension happens before March. Teams have used the tag to keep No. 1 or No. 2 receivers off the market fairly frequently in recent years. Beyond Adams and Chris Godwin this year, the Bears (Allen Robinson), Bengals (A.J. Green) and Dolphins (Jarvis Landry) have cuffed wideouts over the past five offseasons. The 2019 receiver class could populate next year’s tag ledger, with Samuel, Metcalf, McLaurin and Diontae Johnson unsigned.
The Commanders have gone through significant tag drama in recent years as well. The previous regime famously tagged Kirk Cousins twice before losing him in free agency. Rivera’s regime tagged Brandon Scherff twice. No deal came to fruition this year, and the perennial Pro Bowl guard signed with the Jaguars. Washington’s McLaurin situation is far away from this stage now, but past examples show where these situations can lead.
Terry McLaurin is one of the few players who have opted to skip his respective team’s minicamp without an excused absence. Washington’s top wide receiver for the past three seasons, McLaurin will have a high price tag — thanks in large part to 2022’s soaring wideout market.
Although McLaurin has not been at the Commanders’ facility in weeks, showing up only to the team’s early voluntary sessions as an observer and then disappearing around draft time, Ron Rivera is nevertheless optimistic the team will finalize an extension this year. The third-year Washington HC cited the team’s successful talks with Jonathan Allen last year, noting the team began discussing McLaurin’s deal earlier this offseason than it addressed Allen’s in 2021. Rivera believes the McLaurin talks are “headed in the right direction,” per ESPN.com’s John Keim (on Twitter).
“We understand what Terry is trying to do,” Rivera said, via Keim (on Twitter). “We want him here; he’s going to be here. We believe in him as a football player.”
That belief will be costly, with the wideout market changing dramatically since Rivera backed a McLaurin extension in February. The former third-round pick is undoubtedly asking for more than the Jaguars gave Christian Kirk (four years, $72MM) and likely has set his sights on being the 12th wideout attached to a deal north of $20MM annually.
McLaurin has yet to receive a Pro Bowl invite, but two other members of the $20MM-AAV club — D.J. Moore, Mike Williams — also have not been such honored. Escalating price notwithstanding, Keim expects a deal to be completed this year (Twitter link).
While McLaurin is the Commanders’ unquestioned passing-game centerpiece, the team’s other top 2022 extension candidate — Daron Payne — finds himself on less sturdy terrain. Washington indeed addressed Allen’s contract last year — via a four-year, $72MM pact that makes him the NFL’s fifth-highest-paid interior defensive lineman — and has other D-line cogs to take care of. Montez Sweat is extension-eligible, but thanks to the fifth-year option, Washington can table potential Sweat talks until 2023. The team’s no-brainer re-up prospect, Chase Young, becomes eligible for a second contract next year.
Payne showed up for Commanders minicamp this week, after missing some OTA time, but has refrained from doing team drills due to his contract situation, Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post tweets. The urgency in Washington’s Payne talks does not match the team’s approach with McLaurin, and it recently used a second-round pick on another Alabama defensive tackle — Phiadarian Mathis. Payne declined to elaborate on where any negotiations stand, per NBC Sports Washington’s Bijan Todd.
Payne would seemingly sit behind McLaurin in the team’s franchise tag queue, if neither signs an extension this year. But the former would be an attractive 2023 free agent. Payne, 25, is coming off his most productive season, one in which he tallied 4.5 sacks and notched a career-high 15 quarterback hits. The well-regarded interior lineman has also missed just one game in four seasons, adding to his value.
JUNE 13: McLaurin does indeed plan to skip this week’s mandatory minicamp, as he continues to try and leverage a new contract, Jhabvala tweets. The Commanders can fine their standout receiver more than $90K, though McLaurin’s absence — as Washington begins its Wentz era — looms larger than the small fine he will incur.
JUNE 12: In an offseason which has seen skyrocketing contract values for young receivers, the Commanders face a crucial decision with respect to Terry McLaurin. The team is seeking an extension with him, but a new contract does not appear to be forthcoming.
Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post reports (via Twitter) that negotiations are ongoing, but the two sides remain “far apart.” The 26-year-old is eligible for an extension for the first time in his career, after three seasons operating as the team’s focal point on offense. Despite a rotating cast of quarterbacks, he has produced back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, leading many to believe he would join A.J. Brown as a 2019 draftee receiving a substantial raise this offseason.
The chances of a deal being signed seemed to increase when it was reported Washington curtailed some its free agent spending knowing a McLaurin extension (as well as one for Daron Payne) needed to be accounted for. However, there has clearly been little progress made since then.
The former third-rounder was expected to be present at OTAs, albeit without taking part in on-field work. However, it became known last month that McLaurin has been away from the team since the draft. That left the matter of his minicamp attendance in question. On that point, Jhabvala adds that it “seems unlikely” at this point that he will be present for the three-day mandatory practice period. In that event, the Ohio State alum would become subject to as much as $93K in fines, at the team’s discretion.
Moving towards a year which, given the addition of quarterback Carson Wentz and receiverJahan Dotsonin the first round of the draft, could see the Commanders improve on offense, the contract situation with their top wideout is set to remain a contentious issue for at least the immediate future.
While Terry McLaurin was expected to skip the on-field portions of Washington’s offseason workouts, as he angles for an extension, the fourth-year standout was planning to be at the team facility for leadership purposes. That stopped weeks ago.
McLaurin began the team’s offseason program April 18 by participating in all team activities other than on-field work, but the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala notes the veteran wide receiver did not show up for the Commanders’ first OTA Monday and has not been with the team since the draft (Twitterlinks).
It should be expected McLaurin will not be on the field for any of Washington’s voluntary OTAs, absent an extension. Next month’s mandatory minicamp will be the next chapter here. McLaurin, 26, has not received a Pro Bowl invite but has two 1,000-yard seasons on his resume. The Ohio State alum has been the centerpiece of Washington’s aerial attack since arriving as a 2019 third-round pick. This combination, coupled with other developments at the receiver position this offseason, makes for particularly interesting negotiations.
Declining to expand much on this situation, Ron Rivera said (via Jhabvala, on Twitter) the team continues to communicate with McLaurin and believes this situation will be resolved. Rivera said in February extensions for McLaurin and Daron Paynewere on the docket, and a recent report indicated Washington spent cautiously in free agency because of its McLaurin extension plan. Of course, this offseason has brought an earthquake for the receiver market — one that has shaken up a few teams’ depth charts.
The Packers are believed to have made a comparable offer for Davante Adams, who chose to reunite with Derek Carr over staying in Green Bay. But Adams’ $28MM-per-year contract led to the Chiefs and Titans determining Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown‘s post-Adams-deal asking prices were too high. Hill is now with the Dolphins on a receiver-record $30MM-per-year deal, while Brown is an Eagle on a $25MM-AAV contract. Brown’s pact, which is certainly relevant to McLaurin’s negotiations due to each being a 2019 Day 2 draftee, actually tops Hill’s for fully guaranteed money ($56.4MM) by a decent margin. That raises the stakes for the Commanders, Seahawks and 49ers, who each employ wideouts in the contract-year boat in which Brown previously resided.
Washington used a first-round pick on Penn State wideoutJahan Dotson, giving the team a well-regarded wideout prospect that can be under rookie-contract control through 2026. Although the Titans essentially replaced Brown with first-rounder Treylon Burks, the Commanders’ issues finding a McLaurin complementary wideout should point to the team going with a McLaurin-Dotson foundation for the foreseeable future. But the team will need to determine if McLaurin’s demands are worth it.
With one major domino having already fallen this offseason with respect to extension-eligible receivers, another could be soon to follow. The Commanders have positioned themselves in a way that makes a second contract for Terry McLaurina distinct possibility.
As detailed by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Washington “spent mildly in free agency” this spring. Part of the reason for doing so, he continues, is the fact that the team “has budgeted for” a long-term deal with McLaurin. The 26-year-old has one season remaining on his rookie contract with a cap hit of just over $3MM.
As Fowler notes, however, that figure will spike considerably if/when the sides reach an agreement on a new deal. The former third rounder’s production has placed him amongst the top young players at the position; in three seasons, he has missed only two contests while averaging 74 receptions and 1,030 yards per campaign. Those numbers, considering the team’s quarterback situation throughout that span, make him a logical extension candidate.
The WR market has seen a dramatic upward trend this offseason, though. With the cost of top young wideouts increasing, McLaurin was named, along with fellow 2019 draftees Deebo Samueland A.J. Brown, as players choosing not to attend their respective teams’ offseason programs. While the latter has since been signed to a four-year, $100MM extension, doing so required the Titans trading him to the Eagles.
Extending McLaurin was listed after the season as a top priority by head coach Ron Rivera, but Fowler writes that the new going rate for top wideouts “looms large” in this situation. While the team could afford a slight uptick in his cap hit via a new deal, they still rank towards the bottom of the league in terms of overall financial flexibility. Nevertheless, they see McLaurin as “a true cornerstone piece”, meaning that a lucrative second contract being signed in the near future would come as little surprise.