Riley Cooper

NFC South Rumors: Falcons, Cooper, Saints

Set to hold their rookie minicamp next weekend, the Falcons want to move quickly and get their entire draft class signed this week, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. The Falcons have informed the agents representing these rookies they want the class signed by Friday, per McClure. This would continue a pattern of expediency for the defending NFC champions. Atlanta was the first team to reach agreements with its entire 2016 draft class. The Falcons have not signed any of their six picks yet. Division rival Carolina, which held its rookie camp this weekend, beat them to the punch by signings its entire seven-man haul. With 20 teams set to hold their rookie camps next weekend, signings should soon accelerate since they’re no longer especially complicated negotiations.

Here’s the latest from the NFC South on the first rookie minicamp weekend.

  • A Riley Cooper comeback is unlikely to commence with the Buccaneers, who allowed him to audition this weekend during their rookie camp. Tampa Bay is not expected not to sign him, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times notes (on Twitter). Cooper played six years with the Eagles and signed a five-year, $25MM extension during the Chip Kelly regime. But his Eagles career did not continue into the post-Kelly era, and the 29-year-old did not play in the NFL last season. Tampa Bay added DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin this offseason to their bolster a receiving corps that became quite reliant on Mike Evans in 2016.
  • Stephone Anthony may not have an open-and-shut case for a Saints roster spot come training camp. The linebacker has not been able to stick at one position nor has he been the surefire starter the team envisioned when it invested a first-round draft pick in him in 2015. NOLA.com’s Josh Katzenstein, though, expects the Saints to give the former Clemson ‘backer to receive another chance in 2017. Katzenstein, while adding that Anthony has not shown an ability to play special teams, expects the former No. 31 overall pick to compete for the strong-side linebacker spot after being moved there from the middle last year. The Saints added UFAs Alex Okafor and A.J. Klein to their linebacking corps this offseason and used a third-round pick on Florida’s Alex Anzalone, complicating an Anthony ascent.
  • Willie Snead has not signed his ERFA tender worth $615K yet, but he’s bound to the Saints for the time being. The fourth-year wide receiver caught in with the Saints’ practice squad in December 2014, after the Panthers cut him from theirs, and became a key contributor the past two years. The Saints run the risk of decreasing Snead’s desire to stay in New Orleans long-term by keeping him on the roster at that rate, Katzenstein writes, but the team doesn’t have any incentive to do a deal now. The writer expects a Snead pact at some point, though. The Saints were in the early stages of such a goodwill-based agreement in April, but nothing has transpired on that front since.
  • Panthers assistant GM Brandon Beane interviewed for the Bills’ GM vacancy this week.

Buccaneers To Audition WR Riley Cooper

Former Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper will try out for the Buccaneers during their rookie camp, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan (on Twitter). Cooper, 29 in September, has not been heard from since he was released by Philly more than a year ago. Riley Cooper (vertical)

[RELATED: Buccaneers Sign 14 UDFAs, Cut Two Players]

At this stage, it sounds like Cooper may have to settle for a one-year, non-guaranteed pact and it’s no certainty that he can make the Bucs’ roster. Cooper was a favorite of former Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, but coach Doug Pederson & Co. didn’t hold him in the same esteem. Not long ago, Cooper signed a five-year, $25MM deal with the team that included $10MM in guarantees. Now, he’s on the fringe of the NFL.

Cooper’s best season came in 2013 when he established new career-highs in receptions (47), receiving yards (835), and receiving touchdowns (8). He followed that up with a decent 2014 season (55 catches, 557 yards, three touchdowns), but his targets decreased by more than 50% in the following season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Release Riley Cooper

The Eagles announced that they have released Riley Cooper. Today (Monday, February 8th) is the first day that teams can release players per the NFL’s calendar and Cooper has become the league’s first such roster casualty. More moves are sure to follow from teams all around the NFL. Riley Cooper (vertical)

Cooper, 29 in September, was a favorite of former head coach Chip Kelly. The new regime, apparently, didn’t hold him in the same esteem. Cooper’s deal had no remaining guaranteed cash on it from 2016 onward, so there will be no fiscal penalty for Philly.

Roughly two years ago, the Eagles and Cooper reached agreement on a five-year deal worth $25MM overall and $10MM in guaranteed cash. Cooper closed out his rookie deal in style with a breakout season in 2013. After being at the center of a preseason controversy when he used a racial slur, Cooper got positive attention by setting career-highs in receptions (47), receiving yards (835), and receiving touchdowns (8). The $5MM annual average of the deal was not chump change, but that was roughly what he was expected to command had he reached the open market.

In 2014, Cooper recorded a career-high 55 receptions for 577 yards and three scores. This past season, he played a much smaller role in the offense, catching only 21 passes for 327 yards and two scores.

Cooper would have carried a $5.3MM cap hit in 2016 and the Eagles saved $2.9MM against the cap by releasing him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Giants, Bills, J. Collins, Cooper

In the wake of Tom Coughlin‘s departure, a report indicated that the Giants could consider their in-house assistants for the head coaching job, but offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo looks like a much more viable possibility than defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. As Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, Spagnuolo is more likely to be one-and-done during his second stint as the Giants’ DC.

McAdoo, on the other hand, is viewed as a future head coach by Giants co-owner John Mara, who “sees a lot of Tom Coughlin in him,” an NFL source tells Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. One league source who spoke to Vacchiano suggests McAdoo will likely be a head coach somewhere within the next two or three years, meaning the Giants could have to decide this winter how much they like him. As the source puts it: “Do you want him coaching for you, or against you?”

While the Giants ponder that question and consider other possibilities for their head coaching job, let’s round up several more items from out of the NFL’s East divisions….

  • Bills general manager Doug Whaley recognizes that his future in Buffalo is tied to quarterback Tyrod Taylor at this point, so it makes sense that the GM would exercise patience in addressing Taylor’s contract, writes Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News. As Dunne observes, it’s better for the Bills to make Taylor show he deserves a lucrative contract in 2016 than it would be for the team to extend him now and risk having another QB extension backfire.
  • As of this week, teams are permitted to finalize contract extensions with players selected in the 2013 draft who are still on their rookie deals, prompting Mike Reiss of ESPN.com to explore the possibility of a new pact for New England linebacker Jamie Collins. Reiss writes that the Patriots have had a Collins extension on their radar for a while, and speculates that it might take Bobby Wagner money (four years, $43MM) to lock up the former second-round pick.
  • Riley Cooper‘s time with the Eagles will likely come to an end this winter, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who suggests that the wideout may end up being remembered in Philadelphia as “the poster boy for Chip Kelly‘s failed culture war.”
  • After spending big in free agency during his first year with the Jets, general manager Mike Maccagnan will face a different challenge this time around, as he focuses on roster depth and sustainability over short-term fixes, says Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

NFC East Notes: Coughlin, Gruden, McCoy

While many observers have predicted that the Giants will replace head coach Tom Coughlin at season’s end, those who know co-owner John Mara “are convinced” he doesn’t want to fire Coughlin and is no lock to do so, writes Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. As Vacchiano points out, Mara and fellow co-owner Steve Tisch could come up with several compelling reasons to keep Coughlin around, including a desire to maintain stability and a lack of star candidates to replace him.

As we wait to see how the Giants finish the season and how that affects Coughlin’s future in New York, let’s check in on a few other items from around the NFC East….

  • As Dianna Marie Russini of NBC Washington tweets, Washington head coach Jay Gruden acknowledged to reporters yesterday that jobs will be on line for his team during the final three weeks of the season. With whispers that Gruden could be one-and-done in Washington, his own job may be one that’s on the line down the stretch.
  • According to reports from Mike Jones of the Washington Post and John Keim of ESPN.com (Twitter link), the neck injury sustained by Washington quarterback Colt McCoy on Sunday is not believed to be serious or career-threatening, and McCoy could even be healthy enough to play in Week 15.
  • After signing a contract extension with the team in the offseason, Eagles wideout Riley Cooper hasn’t provided the same sort of big plays he did a year ago, but head coach Chip Kelly is pleased with Cooper’s play, writes Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • The Giants took a look at a pair of defensive players yesterday, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, who tweets that the club brought in linebacker Victor Butler and defensive end Gerald Rivers for tryouts.
  • Having been cut by the Titans last week, cornerback Brandon Ghee was among a handful of players to work out for Washington, tweets Wilson. The club also auditioned cornerback Qua Cox, offensive lineman Ty Nsekhe, defensive back Justin Rogers, and defensive lineman Shawn Lemon, who is coming off a 13-sack season with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders.

NFC Links: Eagles, Falcons, Manning

The Vikings lost another key member of their offensive line today, as Phil Loadholt is finished for the season with a torn pectoral. Despite the injuries, coach Mike Zimmer isn’t panicking (via Craig Peters of Vikings.com)…

“I think Phil is a great person,” Zimmer said. “He’s very conscientious, works hard, he’s got a great heart. So, that’s just part of football. Obviously we’ll miss him but we’re not going to let it hold us back from what we’re trying to get done.

That’s just the way it goes. That’s how things happen and you’ve just got to keep playing.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the NFC…

  • While it would appear that rookies Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff have cut into Riley Cooper‘s playing time, the wide receiver joked that Jeremy Maclin‘s contract situation has played a role, as Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Maclin signed a one-year deal with the Eagles in February. “Maclin’s trying to get a contract so he’s probably not going to try and come out of the game,” Cooper said, with sarcasm.
  • The Falcons have continued to struggle, compiling only eight wins since their 13-3 record in 2012. At this rate, Peter King of SI.com can’t envision coach Mike Smith sticking around past December.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap examines the decisions the Giants will soon have to face, particularly in regards to quarterback Eli Manning. The writer believes the team has four courses of action: stay their usual route, spend on veteran free agents, move on from Manning or build young around Manning.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Minor Moves: Benn, Steelers, Bucs, Chapas

  • As expected, the Eagles have re-signed receiver Arrelious Benn days after releasing him. Terms of the deal weren’t announced, but Benn’s contract was reworked in order to avoid the $1.1MM he was due this season, writes Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. Benn, who missed last season because of a torn ACL, is not guaranteed a roster spot, however, as the Eagles added a pair of rookie receivers — second-rounder Jordan Matthews and fifth-rounder Josh Huff — to groom behind veterans Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper.
  • The Steelers have inked sixth-round nose tackle Daniel McCullers (all 6-7, 350 pounds of him) and seventh-round tight end Rob Blanchflower, per Pro Football Talk. McCullers in particular has a realistic chance of carving a niche with the team, as the mammoth nose tackle with exceptionally long arms is an ideal, two-gapping anchor if he plays to his potential. He’s underachieved to this point, however, and was drafted lower than his ability dictates for a reason.
  • Meanwhile, the Steelers will have to wait until June 2 to free up money to sign their top three draft picks, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Twitter).
  • The Buccaneers announced they’ve signed fifth-rounder Kevin Pamphile, an offensive tackle out of Purdue.
  • The Ravens will sign ex-Jaguars fullback Shaun Chapas, per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Chapas, 26, was a seventh-round pick of the Cowboys in 2011. He had a brief stint with the Lions in 2012 and spent time on Jacksonville’s practice squad and active roster last season.

Eagles May Gauge Interest In DeSean Jackson

The Eagles could possibly look to trade receiver DeSean Jackson, according to Jimmy Kempski of CSNPhilly.com. Kempski is clear that the team will not actively shop Jackson, but if another team called with interest, “the Eagles certainly wouldn’t laugh and hang up.”

Jackson is entering the third year of five-year, $47MM deal he signed in March 2012. The star receiver, who enjoyed the best season of his career in 2013 in Chip Kelly’s new offense, has had contract squabbles before, including this year, leading a team source to state that a new pact was unlikely. According to Kempski, Jackson’s attitude has rubbed some in Eagles headquarters the wrong way, and his personality may run counter to the type of “locker room culture that Chip Kelly is trying to cultivate.” Additionally, fellow receiver Jason Avant had acted as something of a buffer between Jackson and receivers coach Bob Bicknell; Avant, however, is expected to be released.

There is also a disconnect between recent comments by Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and the team’s roster construction. The team recently re-signed both Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, and is now second in the league in wide receiver investment, something Roseman might be concerned about. “We’re trying to figure out the whole dynamic of it,” said the GM. “You can only put a limited amount of resources at a particular position before it starts taking out from other places.”

Still, a trade of Jackson does seem unlikely. He is a great fit in Kelly’s scheme, with his ability to both stretch the field and act as a weapon on short out patterns. He ranked as the seventh-best receiver by both Pro Football Focus’ and Football Outsiders’ metrics. The Eagles, meanwhile, would be relegated to relying on the one-year sample size of Cooper, and, in Maclin, a player coming off of a torn ACL. In the event of Jackson’s being made available, there would certainly be a market for his services, with the 49ers among his potential suitors, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.

Seahawks Notes: Tate, Bennett, Salary Cap

As the Seahawks said goodbye to receiver Sidney Rice and defensive lineman Red Bryant, they said hello to approximately $12.8MM in savings, freeing the defending Super Bowl champions to be active participants in upcoming free agency.

Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times reached out to cap expert Jason Fitzgerald of OvertheCap.com, and Fitzgerald offered a plethora of knowledge, shining light on the possible plans of GM John Schneider in the coming months.

  • According to Fitzgerald, the team will have about $17.8MM in cap room. He predicts a safe spending level between $10-10.5MM after setting aside $1.5MM for rookie draft picks and a minimum $6MM cushion.
  • Fitzgerald views tight end Zach Miller and defensive end Chris Clemons as “too expensive” on their current deals, set to earn $7.5MM and $6MM in 2014, respectively.
  • With a cap number hovering around $76MM in 2015, Fitzgerald does not envision Seattle having any problems taking care of quarterback Russell Wilson, left tackle Russell Okung, cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas going forward. With the exception of Okung, who has two years left on his current deal, each player is eligible for free agency next offseason.
  • Free agent Golden Tate should not be that expensive to re-sign, says Fitzgerald, likening him to Eagles receiver Riley Cooper, who just received a five-year, $25MM contract with $10MM guaranteed.
  • Defensive lineman Michael Bennett, however, “is a trickier one” because he excelled at a premium position last season in a contract year. Fitzgerald doesn’t know if the Seahawks can retain Bennett’s services if the former Texas A&M Aggie goes for a $9-10MM/year contract.

Eagles Cap Details: Peters, Cooper, Kelce

Offensive tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce, and wide receiver Riley Cooper have all reached long-term contract agreements with the Eagles this week, and the details of those deals have slowly become public over the last couple days. Here’s a quick breakdown of how the three contracts look:

  • Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com has the specifics on Peters’ new contract, including a new chart that clearly exhibits how the annual figures. The deal includes a $5MM signing bonus and a $5MM roster bonus for 2014, so Peters will receive $10MM of his guarantee before the 2014 season even begins. Additionally, his full ’14 base salary (down to $1.75MM) is now guaranteed, as is a portion of his 2015 salary ($4MM of $6.8MM). The contract also includes $3MM in escalators based on Pro Bowl and All Pro selections.
  • Fitzgerald also has the year-by-year breakdown of Cooper’s new five-year contract, which included a $4MM signing bonus. According to Fitzgerald, Cooper’s $1MM base salary for 2014 is fully guaranteed, as is $3MM of his 2015 base salary ($4MM). The receiver can ensure that an extra $1MM in base salary is guaranteed in both 2015 and 2016 if he remains on the roster beyond the fifth day of those league years. Fitzgerald’s piece on Cooper’s deal also takes a look at how it might affect the rest of the secondary receiver market.
  • Cooper’s contract includes annual escalators worth $625K from 2015 to 2018, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today. As Fitzgerald’s chart details, that means the deal only amounts to a total of $22.5MM over five years, with the possibility of Cooper earning an extra $2.5MM via those escalators.
  • According to Pelissero (Twitter links), Kelce’s base salary for 2014 remains the same, before jumping to $3MM in 2015. Both of those amounts, plus $2.602MM of his $4MM base salary for 2015, are fully guaranteed. The center also received a $6MM signing bonus, and his deal includes $200K per year in Pro Bowl escalators.
  • Overall, the three new contracts resulted in an extra $1.409MM being added to the Eagles’ 2014 cap total, tweets Pelissero.