Troy Franklin

AFC West Notes: Chargers, Broncos, Kelce

Jim Harbaugh talked up ex-Michigan pupil J.J. McCarthy extensively before the draft — potentially leading to the unexpected Justin Herbert trade inquiries — but the latter’s prospect status affected the Chargers‘ plans. Drake Maye going off the board at No. 3 stonewalled Chargers hopes of trading down from No. 5 overall, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. Maye prompted the Giants and Vikings to propose the Patriots deals involving 2025 first-rounders. The Vikings spoke with the Chargers, but it is clear McCarthy did not drive interest the way Maye did. A trade from No. 11 to No. 5 would have cost the Vikings, who memorably interviewed Harbaugh in 2022, a future first-rounder. No major interest in the pick led to the Bolts staying at 5 and choosing Joe Alt, who is set to begin work at right tackle in Los Angeles.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Staying with the Chargers, they will have both their Ravens RB imports at full strength during the offseason program. Following his second major injury — an Achilles tear sustained in Week 1J.K. Dobbins deemed himself “100%.” “I’m 100% now,” Dobbins said, via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe. “It was like a walk in the park, it was like a sprained ankle. It was very easy, because I had the knee [injury] — the knee was pretty hard. The Achilles was, I would say, easy, just because that’s my mentality. Got the injury-prone [label] out there, but I think that the storm is over with. I think that I’m going to take off now. There will be no setbacks.” The past injuries limited Dobbins in free agency; he signed a one-year, $1.6MM deal that comes with just $50K guaranteed. Gus Edwards landed a two-year, $6.5MM pact to rejoin Greg Roman in L.A.
  • After Sean Payton — upon the Broncos trading Jerry Jeudy — made it clear he wants an expanded Marvin Mims role on offense, ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold notes the second-year Denver HC drove the effort to draft Troy Franklin near the top of the fourth round. Payton texted Broncos GM George Paton before the fourth round about wanting to move up toward the top of the board to draft Franklin, whom the Broncos had Franklin graded much higher than his ultimate draft slot (No. 102). The Broncos traded Nos. 121, 136 and 207 to move up (via the Seahawks) for Bo Nix‘s top Ducks target. The Broncos still roster Courtland Sutton, though teams have called about a trade for the somewhat disgruntled wideout, but the team has now added a host of WRs — Mims, Franklin and Josh Reynolds chief among them — under Payton. Sutton and Tim Patrick remain from the John Elway GM era.
  • Broncos third-round pick Jonah Elliss underwent shoulder surgery late last year, but the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson notes the Utah alum has been cleared. Denver returns its top three edge rushers from last season (Nik Bonitto, Baron Browning, Jonathon Cooper), but Browning and Cooper are in contract years. Jonah Elliss, the latest son of ex-Bronco DT Luther Elliss to enter the NFL, will likely mix in as a rotational OLB to start his pro career.
  • The Chiefs signed off on a straight-up raise for Travis Kelce, as no new years are included in the superstar tight end’s latest deal. The future Hall of Famer remains signed through 2025, and SI.com’s Albert Breer notes no void years were added for cap purposes. The re-up increased Kelce’s 2024 cap number from $15.6MM to $19.6MM, per OverTheCap. Kelce’s 2025 cap number checks in at $19.8MM; the bulk of the 34-year-old pass catcher’s 2025 salary will become guaranteed on day 3 of the 2025 league year.
  • The Paton-Payton duo made a recent staff addition as well. Joey DiCresce will move from intern to full-time football data scientist with the Broncos, ESPN.com’s Seth Walder tweets.

Broncos Acquire No. 102, Select Oregon WR Troy Franklin

The Broncos have traded for the second selection of Day 3. Denver has acquired picks No. 102 and No. 235 from the Seahawks, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. In return, Seattle will receive picks No. 121, No. 136, and No. 207.

The Broncos have used the pick on Oregon wide receiver Troy Franklin.

Following a breakout 2022 campaign, Franklin had an even bigger season in 2023. He finished the year setting a school record with 14 receiving touchdowns, and he compiled 1,383 yards on 81 receptions. Knocked for his size and physicality, Franklin wasn’t able to parlay his performance into a selection in the first three rounds. Fortunately, he’ll land in a perfect spot in Denver.

Franklin, of course, is plenty familiar with new Broncos QB Bo Nix, with the duo playing alongside each other for the past two seasons. The Broncos reportedly had their eye on several Ducks players, as Mike Klis of 9News in Denver notes that the team hosted Nix, Franklin, and running back Bucky Irving for private workouts on the same day.

With Jerry Jeudy out of the picture, the rookie could carve out a role on a Denver depth chart that also includes Courtland Sutton, Marvin Mims Jr., and offseason acquisition Josh Reynolds.

WR Notes: Allen, Bolts, Colts, Bills, Browns, Falcons, Jets, Panthers, Saints, Bears

Nearly dealt to the Texans, Keenan Allen will soon team with D.J. Moore on the Bears. Only Malcom Floyd enjoyed a longer WR tenure with the Chargers, who surprised Allen (per ESPN.com’s Kris Rhim) by requesting a pay cut after a 1,243-yard season (career-high 95.1 per game). The process that ended with Allen shipped to Chicago for a fourth-round pick stunned the 11-year veteran, whose camp presented the Bolts with a counteroffer that would have made the 31-year-old talent one of the NFL’s highest-paid wideouts. The team quickly rejected that proposal, Rhim adds.

Cutting Mike Williams to move under the cap, the Chargers had already restructured the deals of Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. The team asking Allen for a pay cut despite moving well under the salary ceiling surprised the wideout’s camp, per Rhim, though the Bolts wanted more room to work in free agency. Because of a 2023 restructure, Allen was due to count more than $34MM on Los Angeles’ cap. The Bears, who paid Allen’s $5MM roster bonus shortly after acquiring him, have the six-time Pro Bowler on the books at $23.1MM. As of now, Allen is due for free agency in 2025.

Shifting to the draft, here is the latest wide receiver news:

  • The Bills and Colts are taking a close look at this draft’s fastest player. Xavier Worthy recently visited Buffalo and is now in Indianapolis for a meeting, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz tweets. Blazing to a Combine-record 4.21-second 40-yard dash, Worthy is coming off a 75-catch, 1,014-yard season. The ex-Texas speedster added 12 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2021. Buffalo certainly needs receiving help, after losing Gabe Davis in free agency and trading Stefon Diggs to Houston, while Indianapolis has been Michael Pittman Jr.-dependent for a while. The Colts did see intriguing rookie-year work from Josh Downs (771 yards), but the 5-foot-8 wideout profiles as a slot player.
  • Georgia wideout Ladd McConkey has now met with the Browns and Falcons, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. McConkey has spoken with at least 14 teams, Rapoport adds. Several teams have placed a first-round grade on McConkey, who also fared well in his Combine 40 (4.39). The 5-foot-11 target took a backseat to Brock Bowers at Georgia, never eclipsing 800 yards in a season. While McConkey totaled 762 in 2022, that number came in 15 games. Debuting late because of a back injury last season, McConkey finished with just 30 catches for 478 yards. Viewed as a strong route runner with untapped potential, McConkey could be an outside or inside option for his NFL team.
  • The Jets, Panthers and Browns are among the teams to have hosted Oregon wideout Troy Franklin on a “30” visit, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo tweets. Franklin had previously met with the Bills and Patriots. Franklin broke through for a 1,383-yard season alongside Bo Nix last year; the 6-3 target should be on the radar as a second-round pick in this deep WR class.
  • The Saints are the latest team connected to Western Kentucky target Malachi Corley, Rapoport adds. Corley will make a Saturday trip to New Orleans for a “30” visit. The Saints made an effort to trade up in last year’s first round but did not make a major investment at receiver in the draft. They have since signed Stanley Morgan and Equanimeous St. Brown, but considering the Michael Thomas release, it would not surprise to see New Orleans make a bigger move in the draft. Corley is expected to be a second-round pick.
  • Bears GM Ryan Poles has broken the front office and coaching staff into pods debating the merits of choosing a wide receiver, tackle or defensive end at No. 9, ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin notes. This makes for an interesting behind-the-curtain look for a team that has done some work on wideouts pre-draft. Worthy, Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze appeared on Chicago’s docket of “30” visits. Odunze or Nabers being available at 9 would certainly be tempting for the Bears, though the Allen trade provides the team some flexibility following Darnell Mooney‘s free agency exit.

Draft Notes: Titans, Alt, Chargers, Jags, Hawks, Cardinals, Bucs, Pats, Latu, Rams

Cutting Andre Dillard and not replacing him to this point, the Titans have a clear left tackle need going into a draft loaded with high-end prospects at the position. The Titans are “definitely” interested in Joe Alt, ESPN.com’s Matt Miller writes, noting the team’s recent visit and Combine meeting with the two-time All-American. But the Chargers should be considered a team to watch for the Notre Dame alum. The Bolts, whose first-round slot (No. 5) is two in front of the Titans’, have a clear wide receiver need but have hired a coach (Jim Harbaugh) who has not emphasized that position.

Alt continues to come up in connection to the Chargers at 5, ESPN’s Jordan Reid adds, and SI.com’s Albert Breer is not sure the Titans will have a chance at the decorated blocker due to the Bolts staying drafting Alt at 5. Alt would replace Trey Pipkins at right tackle in this scenario. Alt was a left tackle for the Fighting Irish and would step in there immediately if he lasted until the Titans at 7. One avenue for Tennessee to have a shot here would be if the Bolts trade down — a move they have made it known they are willing to make. Other quality tackles like Alabama’s JC Latham and Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga could be options for the Bolts if they move down, Reid adds.

Here is the latest from the draft:

  • Personnel around the NFL are tying the Jaguars to a cornerback investment at No. 17, Reid adds in the above-referenced ESPN piece. Jacksonville has hosted both Alabama CBsTerrion Arnold, Kool-Aid McKinstry — and has a need at the position due to the Darious Williams cut. The Jags signed Ronald Darby, but the 30-year-old CB is signed to a two-year deal that can be shed easily in 2025. A young corner to pair with Tyson Campbell would make sense. With Josh Allen signed long term and Trevor Lawrence perhaps on deck this year, the Jags finding quality starters on rookie contracts will be paramount.
  • The Cardinals and Seahawks have hosted Penn State edge rusher Chop Robinson on visits this week, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero notes. The ex-Nittany Lions sack artist has been busy during the draft run-up, having already met with the Eagles, Ravens, Saints, Giants and Jets. Robinson would come into play for the Cardinals if they moved down from No. 4, but Arizona — which certainly needs help on the edge — also holds the No. 27 choice courtesy of its Texans trade early in last year’s draft. The Seahawks hold the No. 16 selection. Mel Kiper Jr.’s ESPN.com mock draft sends Robinson to the Buccaneers at 26.
  • Speaking of the Bucs, they recently brought in Western Kentucky wide receiver Malachi Corley for a pre-draft meeting, Pelissero tweets. The Bucs have plenty of money allocated to the receiver position, with both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on deals north of the $20MM-AAV mark. Corley profiles as a second-round option in a deep receiver draft, with teams who pass on filling a WR need in Round 1 likely paying attention to the ex-Hilltoppers standout’s status entering Day 2. The Browns, Ravens, Seahawks and 49ers have also scheduled Corley visits.
  • Moving to another Day 2-level wideout, Troy Franklin is believed to have scheduled a Patriots meeting, ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Caplan tweets. The Patriots not landing Calvin Ridley places them on the radar for a wideout in Round 2, assuming they fill their QB need at No. 3 overall. The Pats did sign K.J. Osborn and kept Kendrick Bourne off the market, but the team’s rookie QB will need more help.
  • Most teams to meet with UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu have cleared him medically, per Sportskeeda.com’s Tony Pauline, who indicates the Rams are one of them. A neck issue forced a Latu medical retirement in 2020, and the ex-Washington recruit missed the 2021 season. He re-emerged to post back-to-back double-digit sack seasons in L.A., and ESPN.com’s Sarah Barshop notes edge rusher is a priority for the Rams. With Aaron Donald gone and the team not making any additions here in free agency, that adds up. The reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year has already met with the Eagles, Bears, Broncos, Vikings and Cardinals.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Bills, Fangio

Even though the Patriots re-signed Kendrick Bourne, their failed pursuit of Calvin Ridley leaves a void at receiver. Robert Kraft certainly believes the team made a viable offer but cited an interesting reason for the former first-round pick choosing the Titans.

It was not because of finance. Clearly, his girlfriend wanted to be in the South,” Kraft said (via the Boston Herald’s Doug Kyed) of Ridley, referring to the wide receiver’s wife. “We had a situation where the taxes were, like, almost 10% higher. We offered — we were willing to keep going at that premium. But he didn’t want to be in the Northeast. And part of it might be the quarterback situation as well.”

The Pats and Jaguars were believed to be battling for Ridley, but the Titans came in with a monster offer. Tennessee gave Ridley a whopping $46.98MM guaranteed at signing — third among all wide receivers. That number will jump to $50MM if he is on Tennessee’s roster on Day 5 of the 2025 league year. The Patriots have faced criticism for their free agency route, after Jerod Mayo said the team was planning to be more aggressive. Much of the Pats’ moves have involved re-signings. The Pats have a big decision to make at No. 3 overall, and trade-down rumors are emerging. If they do draft a passer third, the WR need will be glaring — unless a rumored Pats trade effort produces a deal — on Day 2 of the draft.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Michael Onwenu joined the host of guards who received big paydays this month, but the Patriots are not planning to return him to his primary rookie-contract position. New England is planning to station Onwenu where he played much of last season. After re-signing the former sixth-round pick on a three-year, $57MM deal, the Pats are keeping him at right tackle, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Onwenu appears comfortable with this plan, per the Boston Sports Journal’s Mike Giardi. The Pats used Onwenu at guard during the 2021 and ’22 seasons, but after injury issues at right tackle last season, Bill Belichick moved him back to that position — where he spent time during his rookie campaign. While left tackle remains an issue post-Trent Brown, the Onwenu deal solidifies the team’s RT job.
  • Bills GM Brandon Beane does not expect Micah Hyde to retire, and despite the team having re-signed Taylor Rapp and brought Mike Edwards over from the Chiefs, Hyde could remain in the picture. Beane is not ruling out a re-signing, ESPN.com’s Alaina Getzenberg notes. Hyde played out a third Bills contract and joins a few other accomplished safeties on the market — Justin Simmons, Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs among them. While GMs often indicate interest in re-signing a player at a lower rate exists, the Bills did follow through on this by bringing back Jordan Poyer at a lower cost (two years, $12.5MM) in 2023. Buffalo disbanded the Hyde-Poyer tandem by cutting the latter this month.
  • Oregon wide receiver Troy Franklin has a workout scheduled with the Bills, per Sportskeeda.com’s Tony Pauline. The No. 43 overall prospect on Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com big board, Franklin has four “30” visits scheduled as well. Working with first-round QB prospect Bo Nix, Franklin posted 1,383 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Franklin was sick during Combine week, Pauline adds, noting he weighed in seven pounds heavier (183) at his pro day.
  • Mike McDaniel confirmed the Dolphins did not have the intention of moving on from Vic Fangio after one season, but the third-year HC indicated (via ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Beasley) a few one-on-one conversations led to an understanding it would be best for the sides to part ways. Fangio quickly agreed to terms with the Eagles, which came after players heard rumblings the accomplished DC was eyeing a move back to Philadelphia during last season.
  • Bourne’s three-year, $19.5MM Patriots contract includes $5.5MM guaranteed, and KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets the veteran wide receiver can guarantee $2.5MM of his $5.5MM 2025 base salary by eclipsing 800 receiving yards this season. Bourne, who is coming off a torn ACL, has one 800-yard season in six years; he posted exacted 800 in 2021.