Roquan Smith

Bears Rookie Roquan Smith Staying Away

Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith is not with the team as the rookies report for training camp on Monday, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The linebacker and the Bears are still negotiating his rookie deal, so he may be staying away until an agreement is reached.

For now, this technically is not a holdout. It won’t officially be a holdout unless Smith does not show on July 19 when veterans are due to arrive.

The Bears and Smith could be in disagreement over the linebacker’s offset languagePlayers with offset language who are cut before the end of their rookie contract have the remaining guaranteed money reduced by whatever they earns elsewhere. Without offset language, players get to double dip. Top 10 picks expect to complete their rookie contracts, but it’s an important issue for agents nonetheless.

Smith, the No. 8 overall pick in the draft, finished in the top ten of Heisman voting in his final year at Georgia. In 2017, he tallied 137 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, and 6.5 sacks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Offset Language Holding Up Top 10 Picks

There are 15 unsigned rookies left, and seven of them are in the top 10. The holdup for this year’s highest selections is offset language, a league source tells Mike Florio of PFT

Players with offset language who are cut before the end of their rookie contract have the remaining guaranteed money reduced by whatever they earns elsewhere. Without offset language, players get to double dip. Top 10 picks expect to complete their rookie contracts, but it’s an important issue for agents nonetheless.

The following top 10 players are without deals and there’s a common thread in the representation for most of them:

As Florio notes, CAA also represents No. 6 overall pick Quenton Nelson. The new Colts guard agreed to terms back in May on a deal that contains offset language, but also includes large guaranteed training-camp roster bonuses in 2019 through 2021. The presence of those bonuses effectively offsets the presence of offsets and could be a good middle ground solution for the agency’s remaining unsigned top 10 picks.

There’s no sign of real acrimony between any of these players and the teams that drafted them, but Joey Bosa‘s situation in 2016 serves as a reminder that offset language can become a real issue that can lead to a training camp holdout.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Rumors: Bills, Broncos, Chubb

Day 1 of the NFL Draft is in the books, but there are plenty of big-name players left on the board. As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link) notes, quarterback Mason Rudolph, running back Derrius Guice, tight end Dallas Goedert, offensive lineman Connor Williams, defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, wide receivers Anthony Miller, D.J. Chark, and Courtland Sutton, defensive ends Harold Landry and Sam Hubbard, and cornerbacks Josh Jackson and Isaiah Oliver are all available as we get set for the second round.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft news:

  • The Bills and Broncos had agreed to a trade based on who was available; but Broncos decided not to pass up on Bradley Chubb at No. 5 overall, Schefter tweets. Things worked out just fine for the Bills, however, as they were able to move up to the No. 7 spot to select quarterback Josh Allen. The move to No. 7 cost the Bills the No. 12 pick and a pair of second-rounders (No. 53 and No. 56), but they did not have to part with the No. 22 pick, which they later used to move up to No. 16 for linebacker Tremaine Edmunds.
  • The Bears surprisingly tried to trade up from the No. 8 pick, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. It’s not clear who they were targeting, but they were able to land Georgia’s Roquan Smith, who many feel has the potential to be a top-tier inside linebacker.
  • Colts GM Chris Ballard says he had an opportunity to trade back from No. 6, but the team would have had to move back too far for their comfort (Twitter link via Mike Chappell of CBS4). Ultimately, they stood pat and landed Quenton Nelson with the sixth pick.
  • The Colts had Smith and Nelson close on their board, but they ultimately favored Nelson because of the need to protect quarterback Andrew Luck, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets.
  • Browns GM John Dorsey says about half a dozen teams wanted to trade up to No. 4, but the value never was attractive enough for him to pull the trigger (Twitter link via Mike Jones of USA Today). The Browns arguably could have traded down and still landed Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, but they apparently did not want to take that chance.

West Rumors: Raiders, Bradford, Donald

Although the Raiders have signed a slew of veterans in free agency this year, they are still in need of help at linebacker. And they may be hoping a run on quarterbacks helps bring Roquan Smith to them at No. 10. They may not be willing to trade up for the Georgia-honed linebacker, however.

Roquan Smith is the guy. I don’t know that they would be willing to give away additional picks later to go up and get him, but he’s the guy they want,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said, via Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. “… There’s a lot of love for Roquan Smith in that building.”

While NaVorro Bowman has been connected to the Raiders for months as a re-sign candidate, he remains a free agent. The Silver and Black signed Tahir Whitehead, and he’ll likely start at one of their second-level spots, with Kyle Wilber and Emmanuel Lamur in line to supply depth. But a long-term cog looks to be on the agenda as this draft approaches. The Raiders have not selected a first- or second-round linebacker who plays off the ball during the Reggie McKenzie regime, with Rolando McClain (Round 1, 2010) being the most recent such investment. Of course, McKenzie ceded some power to Jon Gruden this offseason.

However, the 49ers are a possible Smith suitor as well — with Reuben Foster facing possible prison time and Malcolm Smith coming off a season-ending injury — and met with Smith this week. He also visited with the Colts and Bears, each holding top-eight picks, in April.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions:

  • McShay’s also heard Tremaine Edmunds and Vita Vea‘s names linked to the Raiders. With four quarterbacks possibly set to go off the board before the Silver and Black’s selection window opens, they could have their pick of these three prospects.
  • While the Cardinals are going to ease Sam Bradford into action this offseason, Steve Wilks likes the early form the would-be starter is in. “I didn’t see anything (bad) out of his knee. Not one thing,” Wilks said, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “Nothing is wrong with his knee. I thought he threw the ball well, ball-handling, he handed the ball off, rolled out, bootleg, all those things. He’s doing everything we ask him to do. We just want to make sure we don’t put too much on him too soon.” Bradford wore a brace on his troublesome left knee early in the week before shifting to a sleeve, per Urban.
  • Sean McVay is encouraged by the early dialogue the Rams are having with Aaron Donald. The team did not expect Donald, a holdout until September last year, to report to the first phase of its offseason program as he seeks a landscape-altering contract. “We feel good about the dialogue that has existed,” McVay said this week. “This is a voluntary offseason program with where we’re at. You know he’s a guy who’s going to work hard on his off-time, and that’s kind of where we’re at.” The Rams sound like they’re on the verge of authorizing a record contract for the reigning defensive player of the year.
  • Maurice Hurst visited the Raiders on Monday, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. Adding the Raiders are “hell bent” on strengthening their interior pass rush, which has been a trouble spot for a while now, Bair identifies the Michigan defensive tackle as a candidate for Oakland’s Round 1 choice it the team trades down from its No. 10 slot.
  • Foster’s in a world of trouble for an alleged domestic violence incident earlier this year, facing three felony charges, but the 49ers linebacker saw a misdemeanor charge dropped this week. Foster won’t face a charge for the possession of a large-capacity ammunition magazine, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office announced (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle).

NFL Draft Rumors: Nelson, 49ers, Eagles

Good news for Wisconsin product Nick Nelson. The surgery to fix the cornerback’s torn meniscus was successful and he did not need a full repair, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Because it was not a full repair, he is expected to recover in six weeks rather than 3-4 months and should be ready for training camp. Nelson was projected to come off the board no later than the third round before the injury and he should be in consideration for rounds 2 and 3 once again after the operation.

Here’s a look at the latest NFL Draft news:

  • The 49ers met with Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith on Tuesday, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. Smith had 137 tackles and 6.5 sacks last season and could be a replacement for Reuben Foster, who is embroiled in serious legal trouble stemming from a domestic violence arrest.
  • Iowa center James Daniels, who is widely regarded as the top center in this year’s draft, visited with the Eagles this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. On Tuesday, he’ll meet with Bears before traveling to the 49ers on Wednesday. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com says that Daniels is one of the best center prospects he’s seen in the last five years and has him ranked as the 23rd best prospect overall in this year’s draft.
  • South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst, met with the Lions on Tuesday, Rapoport tweets. If the Lions select Hurst in the first round, that will make three first round tight ends for them in the last ten years, following Brandon Pettigrew (2009) and Eric Ebron (2014).
  • Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander visited the Eagles and Dolphins this week, Rapoport tweets. Alexander is widely projected to be a first round pick and may be the second CB to come off the board after Ohio State’s Denzel Ward.
  • Teams like Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne, but the belief that he is a two-down defender and not an adept pass-rusher may keep him out of the Top 10, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com hears.
  • Speaking of Payne, he visited the Redskins on Monday, a source tells ESPN.com’s John Keim (on Twitter). Washington owns the No. 13 overall pick in the draft.

East Notes: Bills, Dolphins, Cowboys, Ealy

Here’s that latest from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Guard Richie Incognito‘s sudden retirement could theoretically force the Bills to wrestle with using their draft picks on finding a franchise quarterback, or instead deploying the selections to restock their roster as a whole, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com writes. Buffalo owns nine picks and possesses the third-most overall draft capital in the league, but would likely need to sacrifice several early selections — including both its 2018 first-rounders — in order to trade up for a signal-caller. However, the Bills are now fielding arguably the NFL’s worst offensive line after trading tackle Cordy Glenn and seeing Incognito and center Eric Wood retire, and needs at receiver and linebacker should be addressed via the draft. After surprising earning a postseason berth a season ago, Buffalo now must decide whether to finds it quarterback of the future or revamp its depth.
  • The Dolphins have their sights set on a defensive player with pick No. 11, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that club is hoping to select Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, or Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea in the first round. Defensive backs Derwin James (Florida State), Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), and Denzel Ward (Ohio State) could also be in consideration, per Jackson, while the Dolphins also like South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (although Miami almost surely wouldn’t use a top-15 pick on a tight end). The Dolphins would prefer to select a quarterback at No. 11, but don’t expect any of the draft’s top four QB prospects to be available.
  • Defensive end Kony Ealy‘s one-year deal with the Cowboys is worth up to $2MM, tweets Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Ealy, 26, will collect an $800K base salary and a $200K signing bonus, while he can also earn as much as $250K in per-game roster bonuses. In order for Ealy to max out his contract, he’ll need to post at least 12 sacks and play in 75% of Dallas’ defensive snaps next season, both of which seem like lofty goals. Because Ealy didn’t reach either of those thresholds with the Jets in 2018, both incentives will be considered “not-likely-to-be-earned,” meaning they won’t appear on the Cowboys’ salary cap immediately.

Draft Notes: Nelson, Evans, Patriots

The 2018 draft class is considered to be one of the deepest in recent memory with respect to quarterback talent, and the quarterbacks are understandably dominating draft-related stories. But there are plenty of other collegiate players with the potential to dominate at the next level, so let’s round up a few non-QB draft notes:

  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com believes there is a “decent” chance that the Giants trade down from their No. 2 overall selection, and if they do, he believes Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson would be the target. Nelson is widely-regarded as the safest bet in the draft.
  • Because there is so much QB talent in the draft, as many as six signal-callers could be taken before New England’s No. 23 overall pick rolls around. As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes, that could allow the Patriots to land the type of player it rarely gets the chance to select, as they are typically picking at the end of the first round. Reiss suggests that Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans could be the team’s target, as he would provide much-needed speed at the LB position.
  • Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne, an excellent run-stuffer who has the skills to become a quality pass-rusher as well, will meet with the Bengals tomorrow, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).
  • Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union thinks the Jaguars need another TE who can threaten the middle of the field to take attention off their outside receivers, and he believes Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews would be a good fit for Jacksonville’s No. 29 overall selection.
  • Florida DT Taven Bryan has been generating a lot of buzz lately, per Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, who tweets that the Gator could be a top-25 pick. Miller suggests the Falcons, who are working out another DT in N.C. State’s B.J. Hill, could be a fit.
  • Miller tweets that three offensive tackles are considered locks for Round 1: Texas’ Connor Williams, Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, and UCLA’s Kolton Miller.
  • UCF’s Mike Hughes has a great deal of upside and is the No. 15 overall prospect in Daniel Jermiah’s most recent Top 50 rankings. However, Miller believes that, because of Hughes’ off-field concerns, he could be the fourth or fifth CB off the board (Twitter link).
  • There are four linebackers expected to be taken in the first round, per Miller (via Twitter): Evans, Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch, and Georgia’s Roquan Smith. Miller says Edmunds’ stock is rising rapidly and that he should be a top-10 selection.

Draft Rumors: Mayfield, Jets, Vea, TEs, Bears

A number of NFL insiders anticipate, in the event Sam Darnold is off the board, the Jets will use their No. 3 overall pick on Baker Mayfield, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com reports. The Jets have already conducted a private workout with the 2017 Heisman Trophy recipient and are scheduled to meet with him next week. And plenty of Mayfield-to-New York buzz has emerged already. They’re among the seven teams that will do so, but Gang Green could have the inside track on Mayfield if the Browns turn to Darnold or Josh Allen. And several league execs and scouts expect the Giants to take Darnold if Allen goes to Cleveland. Pauline adds that if Rosen is on the board and the Jets draft Mayfield, they would be making a “colossal mistake.”

Here’s the latest from a busy Monday in the draft world. A lot of flights are being scheduled for top prospects.

  • Arguably the top linebacker in this draft, Roquan Smith has visits scheduled with the Colts and Bears, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Hill adds the Cowboys are not tabbed to meet with the Georgia linebacker. The Colts and Bears hold picks 6 and 8, respectively, and Smith has been mocked to teams either in that range or shortly after.
  • The tight end contingent has begun making key trips recently. Hayden Hurst is visiting the Jaguars on Tuesday, and the Saints have already put the South Carolina pass-catcher through a workout, Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets. Meanwhile, the Vikings will host South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert on a visit beginning Tuesday night, per Darren Wolfson of KSTP.com (on Twitter).
  • Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson will visit the Bears and Dolphins, with the Chicago trip coming first, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. An expected first-round pick, Jackson will meet with the Bears today.
  • Three more teams intend to visit with Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter) the Packers and Buccaneers will host the mammoth lineman. The Cowboys are already scheduled to meet with Vea, and Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes Vea will visit the Browns as well. The four-year Huskies cog rates as the top interior defender in the draft, per Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com.
  • The Browns are also meeting with Michigan defensive lineman Maurice Hurst. In line to be a second-generation NFLer, Hurst said during a Sirius XM Radio appearance (via Ulrich) he will meet with the Browns. Hurst was discovered to have a heart condition at the Combine but has since been cleared. The Michigan talent could be an option for the Browns in the second round, with the team holding picks 33 and 35.
  • San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny is meeting with the Broncos today, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter). Denver has yet to make a decision on C.J. Anderson, who has a nonguaranteed $4.4MM salary this season. Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson represent depth behind Anderson, although Booker frequently saw action upon returning from injury last season.

Peter King On Browns, McCarron, Tannehill

Here’s the latest from Peter King of The MMQB:

  • The Browns have four picks in the top 35 of this year’s draft, but coach Hue Jackson is still pushing for the team to acquire A.J. McCarron, King hears. If the team does go for McCarron in March, the plan would be for the team to also draft a rookie quarterback to be groomed behind him. The Browns, of course, nearly landed McCarron before last year’s trade deadline before a paperwork snag tanked the deal. One has to wonder if McCarron would be skeptical about the Browns’ level of commitment to him in such a scenario, particularly after seeing how Mike Glennon‘s arrangement worked out with the Bears. Then again, McCarron might be faced with a similar scenario with any team that shows interest him.
  • It has been said that the Dolphins are committed to Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, but King is not convinced after speaking with executives at the combine. Miami is look at QBs at No. 11 overall and several people who spoke with King believe they’ll select a signal caller there. Tannehill has missed the last 19 Dolphins games with back-to-back ACL tears.
  • After speaking with several GMs, scouts, and coaches, this is King’s rough consensus for the top ten player’s in the draft: Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, USC quarterback Sam Darnold, North Carolina State edge rusher Bradley Chubb, Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, and Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith.

Draft Notes: McGlinchey, Edmunds, R. Smith

The 2018 offensive tackle class is setting up to underwhelm, as Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.net observes in his latest look at this year’s prospects. So far, most NFL clubs only rate one tackle — Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey — as worthy of a first-round pick, and given that he may be the only available tackle capable of starting on day one, his stock figures to rise even more as draft day approaches. Meanwhile, Orlando Brown (Oklahoma) is viewed as a right tackle, while Connor Williams (Texas) is only on some teams’ guard boards. Further down the list, Western Michigan’s Chukwuma Okorafor, Pittsburgh’s Brian O’Neill, and UCLA’s Kolton Miller are considered Day 2 selections, while Martinas Rankin (Mississippi State) isn’t believed to be a left tackle at the pro level, per Pauline.

Here’s more on the 2018 draft, all courtesy of Pauline:

  • With NFL teams searching for athletic linebackers, Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Teach) and Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State) are likely to come off the board earlier than many expect, according to Pauline. In fact, Edmunds is rising up draft boards so quickly that he may become a top-12 selection. However, the scouting combine will prove to be an important test for Edmunds, per Pauline, who says the former Hokie lacks “quick change-of-direction skills.” Vander Esch, meanwhile, is being compared to former Bears linebacker and 2018 Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, and most clubs believe he can be a three-down defender.
  • While Edmund and Vander Esch are drawing rave reviews, fellow linebacker Roquan Smith is trending in the other direction, reports Pauline. Given that the pass game now dominates the pro ranks, Smith’s problems playing man coverage against opposing running backs and tight ends could prove troublesome. However, Pauline says Smith can be effective when used in zone coverage, which should make the Georgia product viable for a good number of NFL teams.
  • Wake Forest edge rusher Duke Ejiofor underwent surgery for a torn labrum in late January, but Pauline doesn’t believe the operation will affect Ejiofor’s draft stock. Projected as a Day 2 pick, Ejiofor is expected to run a 4.75 40-yard dash despite sitting at nearly 270 pounds. Scouts are impressed by Ejiofor’s “explosiveness, power, and athleticism,” and given that his labrum injury occurred in October, teams can account for any drop in performance after that time.