A pair of Colts defensive backs might not be cleared to play this weekend. The team announced that cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Andrew Sendejo are in the concussion protocol.
This is a tough break for Rhodes, who missed the first two games of the season with a calf injury. He’s been relatively productive since returning to the lineup, although he was limited to 41 snaps on Monday before exiting with the concussion. The veteran is currently in his second season with Indy. He got into all 16 games in 2020, finishing with 42 tackles, 12 passes defended, and two interceptions.
Sendejo‘s absence further depletes a safety corps that’s already missing Khari Willis. After starting 14 games for the Browns in 2020, Sendejo has started two of his four games in 2021, collecting eight tackles.
If Rhodes and Sendejo are unable to go this weekend against the Texans, the team would have to turn to defensive backs BoPete Keyes, Anthony Chesley, or George Odum to cover the open cornerback and safety spot.
March 28th, 2021 at 6:33pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
Let’s catch up on the latest batch of financial terms from recent free agent deals:
Colts CB Xavier Rhodes: One-year, $4.77MM. $3.75MM fully guaranteed salary, $1.02MM in per game active roster bonuses. $1.75MM in additional playing time, interception, and Pro Bowl incentives, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). This was originally reported as a one-year, $6.5MM pact, but it looks like that’ll only be the case if he hits those incentives.
Titans CB Kevin Johnson: One-year, $2.25MM. $2MM guaranteed, with a $1MM salary and $1MM signing bonus. $250K in per game active roster bonuses, via Wilson on Twitter. We didn’t have any word on compensation initially, and it turns out Tennessee got the former first-rounder for a pretty reasonable price.
Vikings RB Ameer Abdullah: One-year, $990K. Non-guaranteed. Via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Twitter. Terms of the deal weren’t previously reported, but the Vikings got the former second-rounder back for a non-guaranteed vet minimum contract.
Dolphins LB Elandon Roberts: One-year, $1.995MM. $1.345MM salary, $650K signing bonus, plus $750K in incentives available, via Field Yates of ESPN on Twitter. We also didn’t have any terms for Roberts, and he ended up getting some decent money to return to Miami.
Falcons CB Fabian Moreau: One-year, $1.127MM. $987.5K guaranteed. $137.5K signing bonus, $990K salary ($850K guaranteed), via Wilson on Twitter. Finishing things up with one more cornerback we were missing terms on. Moreau, a part-time starter for Washington the past few years, got just above the minimum, although it’s almost entirely guaranteed at least.
Xavier Rhodes will stay in Indianapolis. After catching on with the Colts last year, the former first-round pick agreed to terms to re-sign with the team, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.
The Colts are giving Rhodes another one-year contract worth $6.5MM, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets, locking in a key piece of their defense for the 2021 season. Last year, the Colts received strong value on the one-year, $3MM accord they agreed to with Rhodes. They will look to keep that going, while Rhodes may have his eye on a bigger payday in 2022.
Jettisoned after a woeful 2019 season in Minnesota, Rhodes bounced back in Matt Eberflus‘ zone-heavy defense. Pro Football Focus tabbed Rhodes as its No. 9 overall corner in 2020. He played a key role in Indianapolis’ defensive improvement, joining fellow new arrival DeForest Buckner in that regard, and will stick with the team for his age-31 season. Quarterbacks completed an astounding 82% of the passes they threw at Rhodes in 2019; he dropped that figure to 52% last season.
Under GM Chris Ballard, Indianapolis has used a measured approach to free agency. That has usually led to the team sitting on extensive cap space, though this year the Colts have cornerstone players Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard eligible for extensions. These prospective re-ups will need to be accounted for, but the Colts came into Saturday with the NFL’s second-most cap space ($35MM-plus). They should have some interesting opportunities to bolster their team in the second wave of free agency. Another T.Y. Hilton contract remains on the team’s radar as well.
On the eve of the legal tampering period, it appears that two of the Colts’ top free agents will be permitted to speak with other clubs. As Stephen Holder of The Athletic writes, there has been little to no progress in Indianapolis’ contract talks with WR T.Y. Hilton and CB Xavier Rhodes.
With respect to Hilton, this report is not exactly surprising. The lifelong Colt might be third on the team’s all-time receiving yards list, but he is now 31 and has lost a step or two over the past several years. This offseason, owner Jim Irsay and GM Chris Ballard both spoke highly of Hilton while acknowledging that the market would dictate whether or not he would be back in Indy in 2021.
Still, Hilton’s 762 receiving yards in 2020 led the team, despite the fact that he did not get many touches early in the year and was not frequently targeted downfield by quarterback Philip Rivers. Even though there are a number of quality free agent wideouts who did not get the franchise tag, not many of them are clear upgrades over Hilton, and Ballard generally takes a cautious approach to outside FAs anyway. Plus, while the Colts will return promising youngsters Michael Pittman and Zach Pascal, they want to surround new QB Carson Wentz with as much skill position talent as possible.
All of that could point to a Hilton re-up, but it seems that Ballard will not be leading the charge in the bidding. If the decreased salary cap and the number of other FA receivers keep Hilton’s price down, he might be back in Indy. But if another team is willing to spend big, expect Ballard to look elsewhere.
Rhodes, meanwhile, washed out of Minnesota but experienced a rebirth in 2020 after signing a modest one-year, $3MM pact with the Colts last offseason. He yielded a completion percentage of just 51.2% and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-best CB, but according to Holder, there has been very little communication between Indianapolis and Rhodes’ camp. Ballard was burned the one time he made a major free agent investment at cornerback (Pierre Desir), so he could be on the lookout for another reclamation project like Rhodes.
The Colts are high on 2020 sixth-rounder Isaiah Rodgers and will return Kenny Moore, but it’s a little curious that they have made no real effort to retain Rhodes to this point.
Late last month, the Colts agreed to sign former Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes to a one-year deal. At the time, it was reported that he’d earn somewhere around $5MM. On Thursday, we learned that it’s not quite that lucrative.
Rhodes ‘s deal has a base value of $3MM including a $1MM signing bonus, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Outside of the signing bonus, the deal has no other guarantees, though he can add an extra $250K if he hits certain incentive milestones.
The Vikings dropped Rhodes midway through March, terminating his five-year, $70MM+ deal with three seasons to go. The new contract represents a serious pay cut for the former first-round pick – his average annual value has dropped by $11MM and he’ll have to play up to par in Indy in order to keep his value strong moving forward.
Rhodes, 30 this summer, had a rough 2019 in Minnesota. The 2016 and 2017 Pro Bowler looked like a shell of his former self – he notched five interceptions in ’16; he offered Swiss cheese D last year, as evidenced by his 127.8 passer rating.
The Vikings reportedly tried to re-sign Rhodes, but his Colts contract indicates that it probably wasn’t a very strong offer. Or, perhaps, the Vikes made him a similar pitch, but he wanted a change of scenery. Either way, the Vikings are now down three former first-round corners after watching Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexanderswitch conferences.
There were several times during the 2019 campaign that AntonioGates considered joining the Colts. The veteran tight end told Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star that he was close to teaming up with several of his former Chargers coaches, including former offensive coordinator (and current Indy head coach) FrankReich, former wide receivers coach (and current Indy offensive coordinator) NickSirianni, and former tight ends coach (and, well, current Indy tight ends coach) JasonMichael in Indianapolis.
“It was just so familiar,” Gates said. “Even the players had, like, similarities if that makes sense. It’s just crazy how everything works. It did look familiar and when they called plays, it just fit what we had done over the course of a decade in California.”
Considering that connection, it was natural for some to wonder if the 39-year-old would finally land in Indy to team up with his former quarterback, PhilipRivers, in 2020. However, Gates made it clear that he isn’t planning on ending his retirement.
“No, no, no,” Gates said. “Last year, I was fresh out. I was hesitant about coming back, but I always wanted to keep open the opportunity of winning a championship. I really, truly feel like the Colts have that opportunity now with Philip. But for me, I can’t be who I was, from a mental standpoint. That’s why I retired. What I would have to go through mentally and the things I’d do to prepare, I just don’t feel like I can give that effort right now. I wouldn’t want to do that to anybody.”
Let’s check out some more notes out of Indy:
Gates also provided some interesting insight into why he believes Rivers chose Indianapolis. “I was in the same boat Philip is in now,” said Gates. “You understand the people you’re going to work with. They don’t have to worry about me as a human being. They know me. And they know, ‘OK, this is his ritual and how he gets prepared and gets ready.’ Sometimes as a veteran, you need that. That helps you….Say I would have gone to New England. I never played under (Bill) Belichick. He doesn’t really understand how Antonio Gates works. He wouldn’t know, I need this day off. I’ll train on this day. So he has a philosophy he’s accustomed to, therefore they have no relationship with me. All they know is what they see. And that wouldn’t have worked. And I really think it’s the same for Philip. I’m 98-99% sure that’s why he went to Indy.”
Meanwhile, cornerback XavierRhodes didn’t mince words when explaining why he joined the Colts. The veteran said defensive backs/cornerbacks coach JonathanGannon and defensive backs/safeties coach AlanWilliams were “the big reasons” he signed with the Colts (via Joel A. Erickson of the Star on Twitter). Gannon coached Rhodes in Minnesota between 2014 and 2017, while Williams was the Vikings defensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013.
The Colts will add a longtime starter to their cornerback corps. Former Vikings standout Xavier Rhodes agreed to a deal to join the Colts, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Rhodes’ new contract is worth around $5MM, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).
A recent Vikings cap casualty, Rhodes secured a one-year Colts contract Thursday in a bid to re-establish his value. The seven-year veteran’s stock has dipped considerably since he signed a Minnesota extension in 2017. Rhodes, 30 in June, struggled for most of last season.
Despite cutting Rhodes with three seasons remaining on his contract, the Vikings tried to re-sign him, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Minnesota has now lost three former first-round corners, with Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander defecting to Cincinnati.
The Vikings, who used a 2013 first-round pick on Rhodes, gave their then-CB1 a five-year, $70MM pact in the summer of 2017. He earned first-team All-Pro acclaim that season, which came after a Pro Bowl 2016 when the Florida State product intercepted five passes.
Rhodes regressed fairly early over the course of his second contract, however. Despite being voted to the Pro Bowl as an alternate, Rhodes allowed a 127.8 passer rating last season. The Colts will aim to bring Rhodes closer to his top level next season.
This Rhodes addition comes less than a week after the Colts cut Pierre Desir a year after extending him. Rhodes will join a cornerback contingent that houses Rock Ya-Sin and standout slot man Kenny Moore.
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.
Earlier today, we discussed a possible extension for Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, an extension that would give Minnesota some much-needed cap space. In addition to a potential new deal for Cousins, Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune notes that other priorities for the Vikings this offseason include extensions for head coach Mike Zimmer, GM Rick Spielman, and running back Dalvin Cook, all of whom are only under contract through 2020. The team will also need to find a new OC, as the Browns just hiredKevin Stefanski to be their next head coach.
The Vikings may also be looking at some significant turnover on the defensive side of the ball. As Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press observes, four of the team’s six defensive starters with Pro Bowls on their resumes — DE Everson Griffen, DT Linval Joseph, S Harrison Smith, and CB Xavier Rhodes — are on the wrong side of 30, or will be next season (Twitter link).
Per Tomasson, Minnesota is likely to release Rhodes. That does not come as much of a surprise, as Rhodes’ play has declined dramatically since he signed a lucrative extension in July 2017, and the team could net a $8.1MM cap savings by cutting him.
Tomasson also suggests that Griffen may not be back with the team in 2020. Pursuant to the terms of a reworked deal that Griffen and the Vikings agreed to last March, Griffen is technically under contract through 2022. But because he played at least 56% of the team’s defensive snaps in 2019 and recorded at least six sacks — he actually played over 77% of defensive snaps while posting eight sacks — he has the ability to void the 2020-22 seasons and hit free agency. Or, even if he does not choose to do so, the Vikings could release him and save about $13MM of cap space.
In any event, it figures to be a busy offseason for Minnesota, a talented team that has just not been able to get over the hump.
December 17th, 2019 at 12:57pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Bears have obviously been having a disappointing season. A year after being one of the toasts of the league and winning the NFC North, they’ve officially been eliminated from playoff contention following their loss to the Packers. With the postseason out of reach, all eyes will now turn toward the offseason. The elephant in the room is what Chicago will do with Mitchell Trubisky and the quarterback situation, but they have some other big decisions to make as well. Linebacker Leonard Floyd is set to make $13.2MM under the fifth-year option in 2020, but that’s entirely non-guaranteed money. They can cut him this offseason with no financial penalty, and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune seems to think that’s a real possibility.
In an interesting column Biggs explores Floyd’s situation, noting all the dynamics at play. Floyd is the second first-round pick that GM Ryan Pace made since taking over the front office, and the first was megabust Kevin White. As such, Pace could be motivated to keep Floyd on the team to try and validate the pick. Floyd certainly hasn’t been bad and he’s been a full-time starter for the Bears since entering the league, but it’s fair to wonder if he’s lived up to the billing of a ninth overall pick. As Biggs points out, the option would make him the tenth highest-paid outside linebacker in the NFL. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie, but only 4.5 two years ago and four last year. In 14 games this season, he has three. His money becomes guaranteed on March 18th, so the Bears will have to make a decision by then.
Here’s more from the NFC:
Speaking of NFC pass-rushers, the Buccaneers’Shaq Barrett has been having a breakout season. He just picked up his 16.5th sack of the year this past weekend, tying the legendary Warren Sapp for the all-time single season franchise record. He’s been a bright spot all year long for this Bucs defense, and they aren’t planning on letting him get away even as he prepares to enter unrestricted free agency this spring. “He ain’t going anywhere,” head coach Bruce Arians said of Barrett, who signed a one-year, $4MM deal this offseason, via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Barrett will likely be in line for a massive payday this offseason, and it sounds like the Buccaneers are ready to pay up. Barrett originally signed with the Broncos as an UDFA back in 2014, and was eventually able to get on the field as a situational rusher. He was slept on this offseason, and as we heard earlier this year, only one team other than Tampa even offered him a contract.
Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes played only 14 snaps against the Chargers this past weekend, but it wasn’t because of an injury. Head coach Mike Zimmer said after the game that Rhodes was healthy, and that his limited action was the plan going in, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. In other words, Rhodes got benched. The 2013 first-round pick quickly became a star and one of the league’s better corners, but he’s declined rapidly. He’s still started every game this season but his snaps have declined each of the past couple weeks, as he’s been burned repeatedly. A first-team All-Pro in 2017, Rhodes is under contract through the 2022 season as part of a five-year, $70MM extension he signed with the Vikings. There’s been a lot of talk that Minnesota will move on after this season, and it’ll be very interesting to see what happens to the 29-year-old.