We’ve compiled a handful of details on recent contracts, including the newest member of the Cardinals offense:
James Conner, RB (Cardinals): One-year deal. Deal is worth $1.75MM, including $500K signing bonus and fully guaranteed $1.25MM salary. Via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter.
Ross Cockrell, CB (Buccaneers): Two-year deal. Contract is worth $2.11MM. League-minimum salaries in both 2021 ($990K) and 2022 ($1.12MM). Up to $450K in playing-time incentives each season. Via Greg Auman of The Athletic on Twitter.
Shamar Stephen, DT (Broncos): Signed. One year, $2MM deal, including $750K guaranteed. $415K signing bonus, $1.075MM base salary (of which $335K is guaranteed), $30K per-game roster bonuses (up to $510K max). Via Mike Klis of 9News in Denver on Twitter.
The Bucs have agreed to re-sign Ross Cockrell, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic (on Twitter). The new two-year deal — now confirmed by the club — will keep the cornerback under club control through 2023.
Cockrell started the year on Tampa Bay’s practice squad before getting called up to the varsity squad. Between the regular season and the playoffs, he saw time in 16 total games, including two starts. He wasn’t slated for much playing time initially, but he came through for the team when Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean went down with injuries.
“[GM] Jason [Licht] did such a great job adding pieces as we went along – Rob [Gronkowski], Leonard [Fournette], Antonio [Brown] and other guys,” said Arians. “And Ross Cockrell has been one of the best pickups we’ve had the entire season.”
All in all, he registered eleven tackles, one tackle for loss, and one pass defensed in Todd Bowles‘ system. His return provides the Bucs a fourth proven corner, plus crucial special teams help.
It appeared that the Giants had added a veteran CB several days ago, when it was reported that the club had signed Ross Cockrell. However, that deal subsequently fell through.
According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv, New York believed it had agreed to terms with Cockrell before he came to the facility. Then, after the 29-year-old went through COVID-19 testing and his physical, he opted against signing the contract (Twitter link). Vacchiano reminds us that the Giants also believed they were in agreement with Cockrell on a new deal back in 2018, but Cockrell ultimately backed out of that agreement and signed with the Panthers.
The Bills selected the Duke product in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, and he appeared in seven games for Buffalo during his rookie year, mostly as a special teams contributor. He was released before final cutdowns in 2015 and hooked on with the Steelers shortly thereafter. He ultimately played in 31 games (23 starts) over two seasons in Pittsburgh, and he was traded to the Giants before the start of the 2017 campaign. Advanced metrics were generally fond of his work with the Steelers and the Giants, and it made sense that New York hoped to re-sign him in 2018.
Cockrell wound up not playing at all in 2018, as he suffered a broken leg during his first training camp with the Panthers. He ultimately appeared in 14 games (11 starts) for Carolina in 2019, and though he tied a career-high with 62 total tackles and tallied two interceptions, he was not as sharp in coverage as he had been in previous seasons.
Still, the Giants are exceedingly thin at cornerback behind free agent acquisition (and former Cockrell teammate) James Bradberry, so Cockrell may have had a real chance to re-establish himself as a starting-caliber corner with Big Blue. Instead, he is still looking for work.
For what it’s worth, head coach Joe Judge said adding a different veteran CB is not a priority, which suggests he’s comfortable with his in-house options (Twitter link via Dan Duggan of The Athletic).
More bad news for the Panthers. After key offensive lineman Daryl Williamsdislocated his knee and tore his MCL yesterday, they were struck with another serious injury to a player expected to have a big role. Cornerback Ross Cockrell broke his leg, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). There’s no timetable for Cockrell’s recovery just yet, but the injury will certainly cost him regular season games.
Cockrell, 27 in August, was sent to the Giants in a September 2017 trade that netted the Steelers a conditional seventh-round draft pick. A former fourth-round pick, Cockrell went on to start nine games for Big Blue, collecting three interceptions and grading as the NFL’s No. 39 cornerback among 120 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. This offseason, the Panthers signed him to a two-year, $6.8MM contract.
In 2017, Cockrell finished first in Football Outsiders’ success rate, which measures cornerbacks on their ability to consistently stop opposing wideouts short of the sticks. In fact, Cockrell was one of only eight defenders who stopped a receiver short of a successful gain on over half their tackles a season ago, as FO’s Aaron Schatz tweeted earlier this year. The league has consistently undervalued him and his skillset, but the Panthers recognized his ability and were looking forward to what he could contribute this year.