Riley Dixon

Giants, P Riley Dixon Agree To Extension

The Giants have agreed to a three-year, $8.7MM extension with punter Riley Dixon, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). Dixon has averaged 47 yards per punt in 2019 — sixth-best in the NFL and a career-high for Dixon — and he may be the most consistent player on New York’s roster this year.

The Broncos drafted Dixon in the seventh round of the 2016 draft, and he served as Denver’s punter from 2016-17 before New York acquired him for a conditional seventh-rounder in April 2018 (the Broncos had recently signed Marquette King, which made Dixon expendable). Other teams were interested in Dixon, who won the Giants’ punting job in 2018 and who was eligible for unrestricted free agency this offseason.

The $2.9MM average annual value on Dixon’s new deal doesn’t make him the highest-paid punter in the game, but it does put him in the top-five. His extension is one order of business for the Giants to scratch off their list in advance of what should be an intriguing offseason.

Giants Sign P Taylor Symmank

The Giants have signed punter Taylor Symmank, according to a tweet from his agent. Symmank will compete with Riley Dixon for the team’s punting job in 2018. 

Symmank spent the 2017 preseason with the Vikings and he apparently has a fan in former Minnesota offensive coordinator and new Giants head coach Pat Shurmur. In that preseason, the 25-year-old averaged 42.9 yards per punt on nine attempts with one punt traveling 60 yards. Five of those punts were downed inside the 20. The Texas Tech product lost that competition to Ryan Quigley and he has yet to appear in a regular season game.

The Giants acquired Dixon via trade with the Broncos back in April for a conditional 2019 seventh-round pick. Dixon is still probably the favorite to take over for the job previously held by Brad Wing, but he’ll have to earn it this summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Foles, Giants, Breeland

The Eagles and reigning Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles just agreed to a reworked contract that gives Foles a $2MM raise for 2018, plus a whole host of incentives. The deal also includes a mutual option for 2019, though if Foles were to decline the option, he would have to give back the $2MM he just received.

Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com examines why Philadelphia, which is tight against the cap this year and will be again in 2019, made the move. The reworked deal probably had little to nothing to do with the Eagles’ wanting to reward Foles for his postseason heroics, so Shorr-Parks speculates that Foles and his camp could have put some pressure on the team, and he also suggests the new contract may come with a lower cap hit.

The chances that the Eagles exercise the 2019 option are very slim, as Foles would be owed a $20MM salary under that scenario. But, if the two sides want to continue their relationship beyond 2018, this gesture will certainly buy the Eagles some goodwill when it comes time to negotiate again. It also guarantees that Philadelphia, which already had the best QB insurance policy in the game, will keep that policy perfectly content this season, and even if Carson Wentz cannot stay healthy, the team has given itself a chance to deploy a capable signal-caller for at least the next two years.

Now let’s take a quick swing around a few other east division clubs:

  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com says the Giants could look to trade offensive tackle Ereck Flowers during the draft, though that will probably be a difficult trick to pull off. Raanan also says Big Blue has done a lot of pre-draft work on punters this year, and he believes the team could bring in a UDFA punter to compete with Riley Dixon. Dixon was recently acquired from Denver for a conditional seventh-round pick, so if he does not make the club, the Giants will likely not need to surrender the pick.
  • Former Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland was set to sign a three-year, $24MM pact with the Panthers last month, but Carolina scuttled the deal due to a “non-football incident” in which Breeland cut his foot. The foot became infected, and at the time, it was reported that Breeland was a few months away from being able to pass a physical. He will surely garner some interest this summer once he is healed, but JP Finlay of NBCSports.com says Washington is not expected to bring Breeland back into the fold. Indeed, Breeland himself indicated on Instagram that the Redskins never had interest in retaining his services.
  • The Patriots are in the unique position of having three fifth-year options to either exercise or decline before May 3, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the team will almost certainly exercise those options on defensive tackles Danny Shelton and Malcom Brown (at a little over $7MM apiece). However, the team is unsurprisingly not expected to exercise the $9.387MM option for receiver Phillip Dorsett.
  • The Cowboys are expected to exercise Byron Jones‘ fifth-year option.

Broncos Notes: Keenum, Harris, Draft, Dixon

Mock drafts have gone in numerous directions regarding the Broncos‘ No. 5 overall pick, and it’s possible the team could make yet another big investment at the position. But if they do, Case Keenum will not be ceding the reins anytime soon. John Elway confirmed that if the Broncos do select a quarterback at No. 5 overall the recently signed quarterback would be the unquestioned first-stringer.

Case is our starter,’’ Elway said, via Mike Klis of 9News. “We’ll cross that road when we get there. Every situation for young quarterbacks is different. I think it’s different in today’s world, and the fact that it depends on what kind of football team those guys step onto.”

The 2016 Eagles thrust Carson Wentz into duty from the start because they traded Sam Bradford, whereas the 2017 Bears allowed Mike Glennon four starts before turning to Mitch Trubisky. It can be expected Keenum will have a longer leash, if the Broncos opt to bypass a top-tier non-QB.

Here’s the latest out of Denver:

  • The Broncos have gotten All-Pro work from Chris Harris for No. 2 cornerback money over the past three seasons. They’ve agreed to incentivize the eighth-year corner’s deal, and Klis details what that will entail. Harris was a first-team All-Pro in 2016 and a second-teamer in Denver’s Super Bowl season; should he land on one of those two teams this year, he’ll earn $500K. Harris can collect $200K for a two-interception season, and if he reaches five picks, Klis reports that bumps up to $500K. Harris has intercepted two passes in each of the past three seasons. Interestingly, the Broncos’ win total will impact their top corner as well. Klis reports Harris playing 65 percent of Denver’s snaps and the team winning six games will mean a $300K bonus, with a 75 percent snap season and eight Bronco wins meaning that spikes to $600K. Harris, who has an $8.5MM base salary in 2018, has been a full-time player for the past six seasons. If Denver returns to the playoffs, the soon-to-be 29-year-old DB earns $300K.
  • Prior to their trade earlier tonight, the Broncos and Giants had been circling each other about a deal for Riley Dixon for a bit now, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Klis reports (via Twitter) Vance Joseph told the incumbent punter the day the team signed Marquette King he would be moved. Multiple teams were interested in the third-year specialist, per Klis.
  • Elway appears to have evolved on his affinity for cannon-armed QBs. The addition of Keenum, who does not have an upper-echelon arm the way Paxton Lynch does, marked a change of pace for a GM that’s targeted tall passers with strong arms. “I was a lot more six or seven years ago, but then we had Peyton (Manning), right?’’ Elway said, via Klis. “Peyton was more of the cerebral type. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been doing this job as far as what certain quarterbacks have success with.”
  • However, the GM that traded Tim Tebow after a memorable season doesn’t regard it as a must to have a mobile quarterback. “The bottom line is that I believe the one thing is that you got to be able to win from the pocket,” the eighth-year exec said. “You can win games, but you can’t win championships unless you have the ability to win it from the pocket. Then if you can get out and move around and create, and do those types of things then that’s an added bonus.” While the Broncos have been connected to Baker Mayfield, an earlier report indicated they were high on Josh Rosen — the least mobile of the top four QBs in this class.

Giants To Acquire Riley Dixon From Broncos

The Broncos’ Marquette King signing made Riley Dixon expendable, and it looks like the team has found a taker for the third-year punter’s services.

Dixon looks to be on his way back to the east coast, with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reporting (via Twitter) the Giants are in the process of finalizing a trade for the specialist. Dixon’s been the Broncos’ primary punter for the past two seasons and has two years remaining on his rookie deal.

The Giants will send a conditional 2019 seventh-round pick to the Broncos for Dixon, Rapoport tweets, adding this trade is now finalized.

Brad Wing served as Big Blue’s punter for the past four seasons, but the team cut him in March.

Denver turned to Dixon in 2016 after selecting him in the seventh round, and the younger player beat out longtime punter Britton Colquitt for the job. Dixon is a New York native and played his college ball at Syracuse.

The 24-year-old Dixon finished his two Broncos seasons with averages of 45.7 and 45.6 yards per punt. Playing in less friendly punting confines, Wing concluded his 2017 season with a 44.1 yards per punt; that ranked 26th among punters last year. Both players had two punts blocked last year, the only two such instances of their respective careers.

This trade going through would mark the second time since 2015 that the Giants and Broncos agreed on terms of a specialty trade. New York shipped Brandon McManus to Denver in 2015, and he’s been the Broncos’ kicker since.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Broncos, Cards, Mayfield, Bolts

Multiple clubs have already reached out to free agent running back C.J. Anderson, whom the Broncos released on Monday, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Anderson, 27, appeared in all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2017, rushing for 1,007 yards and three scores. However, Anderson has managed only four yards per carry over the past two seasons, and — as Warren Sharp of SharpFootballStats.com detailed in an excellent Twitter thread — struggled with early-down work a year ago. Speculatively, teams that could be eyeing a running back addition include the Dolphins (who have expressed recent interest in Anderson in the past), Patriots, Texans, Giants, Redskins, Lions, Panthers, and Seahawks.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • The Cardinals hosted Oklahoma quarterback prospect Baker Mayfield on Wednesday, per Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Mayfield is widely expected to be a top-10 selection, and has been heavily linked to the Jets at No. 3, so Arizona — which currently holds the 15th overall pick — likely won’t have a shot at the ex-Sooner unless it trades up. But the Cardinals certainly need an infusion of talent under center, as neither Sam Bradford nor Mike Glennon are long-term options in the desert. Bradford inked a one-year, $20MM deal with Arizona earlier this year, while Glennon signed a two-year pact. Mayfield, if selected by the Cardinals, likely wouldn’t play immediately given the presence of Bradford, but he would set the club up for years to come.
  • Punter Riley Dixon did not report to Broncos‘ workouts on Monday and has been advised by his agent to stay away until Denver informs him of his status with the club, tweets Klis. The Broncos signed former Raiders punter Marquette King to a three-year deal earlier this month, so they’re clearly not going to keep Dixon around in 2018. Denver had been expected to shop Dixon, but it’s unclear if any other team is willing to sacrifice anything of note for a specialist with a spotty track record. Dixon, 24, has been the Broncos’ punter in each of the past two seasons after entering the league as a seventh-round pick in 2016. In 2017, Dixon ranked 22nd in net punting average, while Denver as a whole finished 26th in Football Outsiders‘ punt points metric.
  • Not only is Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget suspended for the first quarter of the 2018 campaign, but he’s also accepted to a hefty pay reduction. Liuget’s base salary has been cut from $8.05MM to just $935K, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The former first-round pick will still earn $2.585MM in bonuses and can collect more cash via incentives, but his 2018 cap charge has been slashed from $9.5MM to $5.02MM. Liuget, 28, appeared in 12 games in 2017, posting 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks while grading as the NFL’s No. 32 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus 

AFC Notes: Browns, Allen, Ravens, Broncos

Quarterbacks have justifiably dominated draft-centric Browns conversations this offseason, but Joe Thomas‘ retirement has left a hole the franchise hasn’t had to worry about since the Romeo Crennel regime. And as of now, the Browns have shifted Shon Coleman from right to left tackle, Terry Pluto of cleveland.com notes. With Chris Hubbard having been signed to play right tackle, the 6-foot-6 Coleman — a 2016 third-round pick who started all 16 games at right tackle last season — Coleman finds himself with either an opportunity to replace a legend or on the verge of being demoted. An anonymous NFL exec, per Pluto, does not believe John Dorsey will go into training camp with Coleman stationed atop the Browns’ depth chart at left tackle. Pro Football Focus preferred Coleman’s pass-blocking work to his ability to open running lanes, bestowing a middling overall grade upon the young blocker, but Coleman’s 14 penalties were the most among tackles last year.

Thomas replacement Spencer Drango, a 2016 fifth-rounder, gave up 11 sacks — most in the league in 2017. The exec floated the idea of the Browns trading down from No. 4 and selecting a tackle, but the team holds the Nos. 33 and 35 overall picks that could be used on a tackle without sacrificing prime first-round real estate.

Here’s the latest from the AFC:

  • Contrary to a previous report, the Jets do not have a Josh Allen visit scheduled, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. However, Gang Green brass did trek to Wyoming this week to observe a private workout. The Jets have been linked to Allen for months, and several team officials “love” the 6-foot-5 quarterback’s skill set. Allen has also been connected to the Browns and is among the four passers visiting the Giants next week.
  • As he did for Texans owner Bob McNair‘s deposition in his collusion lawsuit, Colin Kaepernick attended those of Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. The Ravens duo’s depositions have been completed. The team was linked to Kaepernick in 2017 but did not end up signing him. Conflicting reports came out over the past several months regarding Harbaugh’s interest in Kaepernick, who led two of Jim Harbaugh‘s best 49ers teams. The Ravens signed Robert Griffin III, who also did not play football in 2017, this week.
  • The Broncos cut ties with Britton Colquitt before the 2016 season because his salary was escalating out of the franchise’s comfort zone, but now they’ve landed Marquette King. He will make $2MM per year on average. King also confirmed there was a bit of a revenge measure associated with his signing with perhaps the Raiders’ biggest rivals. “I just wanted to find the best place that I thought I would fit,” King said, via Mike Klis of 9News. “I think there is somewhat of a revenge factor in there, too.” King punted for Dennis Allen– and Jack Del Rio-coached teams from 2012-17, but unlike the former Denver defensive coordinators, new Oakland HC Jon Gruden wasn’t a fan of the punter’s personality. King said the Broncos did not ask him to tame down his antics.
  • Expect the Broncos to try and get what they can for incumbent punter Riley Dixon, Klis notes. The Syracuse product selected in the seventh round in 2016 has two years remaining on his rookie deal, but being a punter coming off a down season, it’s possible the Broncos may simply have to waive Dixon. Klis observes a trend in Denver ditching or demoting core members of its 2017 special teams units, which struggled. ST coordinator Brock Olivo was fired after one season, Dixon has now been replaced and ex-UDFAs have been brought in to compete with Brandon McManus and long snapper Casey Kreiter.

Broncos Cut Britton Colquitt, Others

Another member of the Broncos’ Super Bowl winning team has left Denver. Punter Britton Colquitt was among the players released today, according to a team announcement. As a vested veteran, Colquitt is free to sign with any club and is not subject to waivers. Rookie Riley Dixon now figures to be the Broncos’ punter in 2016.

Colquitt has been with the Broncos since late in the 2009 season and was the Broncos’ longest-tenured player. Now, 2010 first-round pick Demaryius Thomas stands as the longest-tenured player in Denver. Colquitt’s agent tells Mike Klis of 9NEWS (on Twitter) that he was willing to take a $1MM cut from his $3.25MM salary. Last year, he accepted a pay cut from $3MM to $1.6MM.

Yesterday, it was reported that the Broncos were gauging trade interest in Colquitt. Apparently, Denver could not find any takers. The Vikings, Cardinals, and Bears are among the teams that could show some interest in the punter now that he is available.

The Broncos also waived offensive tackle Kyle Roberts and wide receiver Bralon Addison. Tight end Garrett Graham has been placed on season-ending IR.

Draft Pick Signings: Bills, Broncos, Titans

More than half of the players selected in the 2016 NFL draft have signed their rookie contracts within the last week and a half. As rookie deals have become more rigid, and more dependent on draft slots, holdouts have become a thing of the past for draftees, and more and more teams are securing their entire draft classes faster than ever.

Here are the latest draft pick signings from around the league:

  • The Bills have signed the first of their seven draft picks, and the first player to sign was the last one to be drafted. The team announced today on its website that it has locked up sixth-round cornerback Kevon Seymour. “Now that I’ve got this out of the way and can focus now on doing what I really love,” Seymour said. “I’m just blessed to be here and thankful.”
  • Like Buffalo, Denver also seems to be working backward with its draftees. The first Broncos pick to sign is the team’s seventh-round selection, punter Riley Dixon (Twitter link via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com). Dixon is expected to push Britton Colquitt – who has a $4MM cap hit – for the starting job this summer.
  • The Titans have agreed to terms with sixth-round guard Sebastian Tretola, the 193th overall pick out of Arkansas, writes Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. Tretola, the seventh of 10 Tennessee draftees to sign, is in line for a four-year contract worth $2.473MM, with a signing bonus of nearly $133K, per Over the Cap.