Russell Okung

Russell Okung Uncertain For Training Camp

Whatever Russell Okung is dealing with, it’s fair to say that it’s not too minor. Word surfaced earlier this week that the Chargers left tackle is dealing with a mysterious injury, and we still don’t know what it is yet.

That being said it’s safe to assume it’s something significant, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com reports the Chargers don’t know if he’ll be ready for training camp next month (Twitter link). The Chargers have had some tough injury luck in recent years, so hopefully Okung doesn’t have to miss any regular season action.

Ever since signing a four-year, $53MM deal with the Chargers in March of 2017, Okung has been one of the offensive line’s few consistent pieces. He’s started 15 games each of the past two seasons, and it would be a massive blow if Los Angeles had to go any time without him. As of right now right tackle Sam Tevi is filling in for him in practice, while Trenton Scott has been playing right tackle.

Scott is a second-year UDFA who played sparingly as a rookie, so ideally the Chargers won’t have to count on him in 2019. It’s rare for a player to be able to keep an injury under wraps this long without word leaking out, and we should know a lot more soon. The folks over at Pro Football Focus gave Okung a 78.4 grade last year, ranking him as the 11th-best tackle in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Russell Okung Injury Severity Not Yet Known

Chargers left tackle Russell Okung did not practice Tuesday due to an undisclosed injury, head coach Anthony Lynn said (Tweet via ESPN’s Eric Williams). When asked if the injury could potentially be longterm, Lynn responded with an ominous, “We don’t know yet.” 

That type of response will not help Chargers fans rest easy. A two-time Pro Bowl left tackle, Okung, 31, is entering his third season with a Chargers team that many expect to contend with the Chiefs for the AFC West crown in 2019.

With Okung out of practice, the Chargers shifted Sam Tevi to left tackle and Trent Scott played right tackle. The team did spend a third-round pick in April’s draft on Trey Pipkens, a 6-foot-6 tackle from little-known Sioux Falls.

Okung posted a grade of 78.4 on Pro Football Focus, making him the No. 11-ranked tackle in the NFL. In his time with the Chargers, Okung has missed just two games, one of which came due to a groin injury in 2018. In his first season with the Chargers, the team allowed the fewest sacks in the league (18) and ranked just outside the top 10 in sacks allowed the following season.

Okung is entering the third year of a four-year deal that will pay him $13MM in each of the next two seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Okung, Glennon, Simon

Updates on several contracts signed this week…

  • There are “no tricks” in Russell Okung‘s new four-year, $53MM deal with the Chargers, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today (via Twitter). The offensive lineman received a $10MM signing bonus, and his guaranteed money will come via his 2017 $3MM base salary and 2018 $12MM base salary.
  • Mike Glennon‘s 2017 $8MM base salary with the Bears is fully guaranteed, tweets Adam Jahns of the Sun Times. Meanwhile, the quarterback’s $5MM roster bonus will kick in on the fifth day of the 2018 league year. Jahns adds that Glennon can earn an additional $2.5MM in bonuses based on playing time, wins, and individual performance. If he hits on these NLTBE incentives, his 2018 roster bonus will be voided.
  • Linebacker John Simon‘s new deal with the Colts is actually worth $14MM over three years, clarifies NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter). Simon will earn $6MM in guaranteed money, which will seemingly come via his 2017 salary.
  • Safety Jonathan Cyprien‘s deal with the Titans includes a $3MM signing bonus, reports ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky. The veteran will earn a $2MM base salary and $1MM roster bonus in 2017. He’ll be paid $4.5MM in 2018 and $5.5MM in 2019 and 2020.

Chargers To Sign Russell Okung

The Chargers will sign offensive tackle Russell Okung to four-year, $53MM deal, per Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). The pact contains $25MM guaranteed, tweets Josina Anderson of ESPN.com.

Russell Okung (Vertical)

Los Angeles is stealing away a division rival’s left tackle in Okung, who previously negotiated his own contract last offseason when he left Seattle for Denver. His four-year, $48MM deal with the Broncos came with an escape clause for the team after 2016 that Denver took advantage of. Okung, to his credit, posted the first 16-start season of his seven-year career with the Broncos. The 29-year-old didn’t play at an especially high level, though, as Pro Football Focus ranked his performance a middling 38th among 78 qualified tackles.

In addition to the Chargers and Broncos, Okung had also been linked to the Vikings, Jets, Giants, Rams, and Seahawks. As such, Okung was able to parlay that level of interest into a deal that appears to be larger than his option would have provided. The total value is $5MM greater, and while we’ll have to wait for exact fully guaranteed figures, Okung was only set to earn $20.5MM guaranteed in his remaining Denver years.

The addition of Okung will likely lead to the release of incumbent Chargers left tackle King Dunlap. The 31-year-old is coming off his second straight injury-shortened campaign, having combined for 19 appearances (12 last season) since 2015. A four-year Charger, Dunlap has started in all 46 of his appearances with the club. If done as as a pre-June 1 designation, cutting Dunlap would save the Bolts $4.875MM and leave with $3.25MM in dead money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agency Rumors: Titans, Hightower, Rams

Let’s round up some of the latest free agency rumors:

  • The talk of the Titans pursuing linebacker Dont’a Hightower might not be at the levels some have reported, Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets. Hightower stands as one of the best free agents left on the board.
  • Not a huge surprise, but the Rams are not expected to bring back safety T.J. McDonald, ESPN.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. I have McDonald ranked as the No. 40 free agent on my Top 50 list, in terms of earning power. He’s not my favorite safety in this year’s free agent crop, but he is young and his hard-hitting style should translate into dollars.
  • Despite formally declining his option on Thursday, the Chiefs have expressed interest in retaining quarterback Nick Foles, Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star tweets.
  • There are still plenty of teams sorting through the offensive tackle market, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets. That list includes the ChargersJets, Vikings, Giants, and Broncos. It should be noted that JLC’s tweet came before Denver’s acquisition of Ronald Leary. It’s not immediately clear if they’re still looking for high-end linemen.
  • Russell Okung probably goofed by not having an agent last offseason, but he has one now, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter links). Cole does not identify the rap by name, but says that he has talked with teams and is not NFLPA-certified.
  • Packers free agent guard T.J. Lang is likely going to have to take some trips before signing, Cole tweets. He had hip surgery in January and teams want to check that out before signing him. This jibes with earlier word that Lang will have to wait a bit before signing elsewhere.

Chargers Likely To Pursue Russell Okung

While the Broncos would like to bring back left tackle Russell Okung, an AFC West rival could get in the way. The Chargers are likely to show “strong interest” in Okung when free agency opens Thursday, reports Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Signing Okung would probably lead to the release of the Chargers’ current blindside starter, King Dunlap, tweets Michael Gehlken.

Russell Okung (Vertical)

The Chargers are the latest of several teams in the chase for Okung, who can’t talk to clubs during the legal tampering period because he doesn’t have an agent. However, there’s a belief among some teams and agents that the Bolts have been in contact with Okung’s advisor, former agent Jimmy Halsell, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. If true, the Chargers would be in violation of the NFL’s tampering rules.

Okung previously negotiated his own contract last offseason, when he left Seattle for Denver, but his four-year, $48MM deal with the Broncos came with an escape clause for the team after 2016. The Broncos took advantage of it and will try to bring him back at a lesser cost. Okung, to his credit, posted the first 16-start season of his seven-year career with the Broncos. The 29-year-old didn’t play at an especially high level, though, as Pro Football Focus ranked his performance a middling 38th among 78 qualified tackles.

The site was less kind to Dunlap, whom it rated 53rd. The 31-year-old is coming off his second straight injury-shortened campaign, having combined for 19 appearances (12 last season) since 2015. A four-year Charger, Dunlap has started in all 46 of his appearances with the club. If done as as a pre-June 1 designation, cutting Dunlap would save the Bolts $4.875MM and leave with $3.25MM in dead money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agency Rumors: Vikings, Okung, Bills

Rounding up the latest free agency news:

  • The Vikings are expected to express interest in offensive tackle Russell Okung when free agency starts, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. This doesn’t come as a big surprise since Okung has been previously linked to Minnesota.
  • The Bills were in play for Brian Hoyer, but he will not be signing with Buffalo after the team retained Tyrod Taylor, sources tell ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak (Twitter link). The Jets and 49ers have strong interest in the veteran QB.
  • The 49ers are now among the teams in the mix for fullback Kyle Juszczyk, Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. The Ravens would like to keep him, but they are expecting to get outbid for the former fourth-round pick. The Bills are said to be in the lead for him and the Browns are also in pursuit.
  • The Raiders working hard today on bringing back right tackle Menelik Watson, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. If he reaches the open market, however, the Broncos are among the teams that will pursue him, Mike Klis of 9NEWS tweets.
  • The Raiders are trying to get a new deal done with inside linebacker Perry Riley, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents

It’s free agency week! This year, thanks to the salary cap increase, the dollars will be flying and players will make more than you ever could have expected. Our lists for offense and defense rank free agents based on overall ability, but our Top 50 ranks players based on earning power. Here, you’ll get a good sense of what the market will be like this week and who the big fish are.

The league’s “legal tampering” window will open on Tuesday at 11:00am CT. Technically, teams and players aren’t permitted to finalize agreements on contracts during that legal tampering window, but that’s often treated as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. We will almost certainly see handshake agreements go down on Tuesday and Wednesday before they become official on Thursday, the technical beginning of free agency.

Our list of 2017’s top 50 free agents doesn’t include restricted free agents, or franchise tagged players, since they’re effectively restricted free agents as well.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive right in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2017, along with a few predictions on how much they might earn and what teams could be in the mix to sign them:

1. A.J. Bouye, CB (Texans): Bouye is an overnight sensation, going from unknown to elite talent in the blink of an eye. No one knows exactly what to make of Bouye, but his upside is too much for teams to pass up. The Texans declined to use the franchise tag on the 25-year-old (26 in August), but they’re still hoping to get a deal done this week. The Jets are said to have interest, but it’s not clear if they’ll have the room to get something done. Cornerback-needy teams like the Panthers, Saints, Jaguars, Titans, Bears, and Eagles can be expected to at least kick the tires on this year’s top player in the secondary. Could something like Janoris Jenkins‘ five year, $62.5MM contract ($28.8MM fully guaranteed) from last year be within reach? Jenkins had a longer history of success than Bouye, but consider these facts: Bouye nearly two years younger than Jenkins was at time of signing and the salary cap has risen by about $12MM.
Signed with Jaguars for five years, $67.5MM.A.J. Bouye (vertical)

2. Alshon Jeffery, WR (Bears): He was hurt for most of 2015 and he slumped along with the entire Bears offense in 2016, but his natural ability is still evident and he is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. At one point, it seemed like Jeffery could wind up as the league’s highest-paid wide receiver. That won’t be the case, but he will likely get more cash than any other wide receiver in this year’s class. The Eagles and Titans have been hot on his tail for some time now. The 49ers could also get involved and a return to the Bears cannot be ruled out either. Ultimately, Jeffery should wind up fetching at least $10MM per year and perhaps as much as $12MM per year on his next deal.
Signed with Eagles for one year, $9.5MM.

3. Kenny Stills, WR (Dolphins): Jeffery isn’t the only wide receiver who could fetch $12MM per year. Stills isn’t necessarily the best wide receiver on his own team, but he is just on the cusp of his 25th birthday and his ability to stretch the field is tantalizing. It doesn’t sound like the Dolphins are ready to be the highest bidder for his services and it’s not hard to imagine a team like the Eagles landing him. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the potential suitors for Jeffery and Stills: the Eagles, Titans, Bears, and 49ers will probably come calling. The Rams may not have enough room to squeeze in Stills, but they could certainly use a playmaker like him if they do not re-sign Kenny Britt. Stills reportedly likes the West Coast (who doesn’t?) so the Niners and Rams could have a leg up on the others if the bidding is close.
Re-signed with Dolphins for four years, $32MM.

4. Dont’a Hightower, LB (Patriots): The market is capped for non-rush linebackers, but Hightower is pretty much the best at what he does and is also lauded for his intangibles. The Patriots have always embraced the “next man up” philosophy, so it is possible they will allow him to go elsewhere. The Dolphins have been frequently connected to Hightower, but that might be too ambitious for a team that has multiple major needs to address. The Colts might also make sense, but the price might be too rich for their blood. A Patriots return appears to be the most likely outcome, but anything is possible.
Re-signed with Patriots for four years, $35.5MM. 

5. Kevin Zeitler, G (Bengals): Zeitler has age on his side and he’s one of the safest free agents in the top ten after three consecutive years of dominance. Interior offensive linemen don’t get as much love as their counterparts on the outside, but they are still incredibly vital and Zeitler’s next contract will reflect that. If he doesn’t circle back to the Bengals, the Jaguars, Cardinals, Packers, and Seahawks all make varying degrees of sense for Zeitler. From a football standpoint, you can add the Jets to that group too, but I’m not sure they can meet a ~$12MM/year asking price.
Signed with Browns for five years, $60MM.

6. Logan Ryan, CB (Patriots): There are bigger names available at the cornerback position, but Ryan slots ahead of many of them after a career year. It also doesn’t hurt that this fresh-faced Super Bowl champ only just turned 26 in February. If the Patriots don’t tie him down, Ryan’s earning power could conceivably vault him past Trumaine Johnson in terms of guaranteed cash. The Jaguars and Titans would be wise to zero in on Ryan if they can’t land Bouye and it’s possible that some of their evaluators might even prefer Ryan over the Houston standout. Ryan’s next deal will probably pay him eight figures per year and it should be a lengthy pact.
Signed with Titans for three years, $30MM.

7. Terrelle Pryor, WR (Browns): There is strong mutual interest in a new deal between Pryor and the Browns. Still, the Browns passed on the opportunity to franchise tag the Ohio State product and he now appears poised to test the open market. With pretty much just one year to show, how will Pryor fare in free agency? His next deal should pay him at least $10MM/year and he could get up to $12MM/year. In addition to the Browns, the usual suspects for this year’s high-end WRs will explore signing Pryor (say it with me): Eagles, Titans, and 49ers. There’s conflicting word about whether the Steelers will get involved. The Giants are known to have interest, but I don’t think they’ll be splurging on free agents like they did one year ago.
Signed with Redskins for one year, $6MM.

8 .Ricky Wagner, OT (Ravens): There’s already talk of Wagner fetching around $10MM/year and it’s not like this year’s free agent market is flush with young, quality tackles. When you also consider the lack of quality tackles in the draft, it’s apparent that Wagner is about to get PAID, in all caps.Believe it or not, $10MM/year might be his floor. When all is said and done, he’ll be the league’s biggest earner at right tackle. The Bears are particularly interested in Wagner, so he could go from the AFC North to the NFC North this week.
Signed with Lions for five years, $47.5MM.

Calais Campbell (vertical)9. Calais Campbell, DL (Cardinals): Campbell was supposed to be an afterthought in Arizona after the addition of Chandler Jones. Perhaps motivated by a perceived slight, Campbell turned in a stellar year. Now, the Cardinals would very much like to keep him, but they can only go so far as they back up the Brinks truck for Jones and look into retaining other key free agents. If Jones does not agree to a cap-smoothing long-term deal between now and March 9th, the odds of Campbell leaving increase. The Jaguars are said to be a leading contender for Campbell while the Titans, Broncos, Colts, and Bears could also use a force like him. His age (31 in September) gives him a bit of a ceiling in terms of overall compensation, but he should still do nicely this month.
Signed with Jaguars for four years, $60MM.

10. Stephon Gilmore, CB (Bills): In terms of pure talent, Gilmore might be the best cornerback available. Trouble is, no one knows what to make of him after a down 2016. Some have openly theorized that Gilmore was playing it safe to avoid injury in his pivotal contract year. It’s also possible that Buffalo’s injuries in the front seven put undue stress on the secondary. The Bears are reportedly high on Gilmore and he may represent a cheaper option than Bouye or Ryan. A Bills return would also make sense here.
Signed with Patriots for five years, $65MM.

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Broncos Working To Re-Up Ware, Okung

Although DeMarcus Ware is eyeing a return to Dallas, where he spent the first nine years of his illustrious career, Denver isn’t giving up on re-signing the pass rusher. Broncos general manager John Elway has met with Ware regarding a new deal, tweets Troy Renck of Denver 7. However, Ware is likely to test the market, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link).

DeMarcus Ware (vertical)

Ware, who will turn 35 in July, is coming off a career-low 10-game season, which came on the heels of a then-worst 11-game showing in 2015. The 12-year veteran has remained productive, though, as he managed eight starts and four sacks in 2016. All told, Ware has piled up 21.5 sacks in three years as a Bronco, giving him 138.5 for his career. He’s now eighth on the all-time sack list and figures to vault up the list at least a couple more spots in 2017 – perhaps in a different uniform.

Meanwhile, Elway has also discussed a return with left tackle Russell Okung, per James Palmer of NFL Network (Twitter link). The Broncos elected in late February to decline his option, but that’s not necessarily going to lead to a divorce. Picking up that option would have triggered the remainder of the four-year, $48MM deal (including $20.5MM in guarantees) an agent-less Okung signed with the Broncos last offseason. Okung then proceeded to notch the first 16-start year of his career, though Pro Football Focus ranked his performance a mediocre 38th among 78 qualified tackles.

Since the Broncos (briefly?) cut ties with Okung, several other teams have come up as potential suitors. Because he’s still representing himself, Okung is not allowed to speak with teams during the legal tampering period.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Offense

NFL free agency is right around the corner! The legal tampering period starts on Tuesday and free agency officially starts on Thursday. The list of available free agents will change between now and then as players re-sign with teams or get cut loose, but we have a pretty good idea of who will be available right now. After looking at the top defensive players, we now shift our attention to the other side of the ball.

Here are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each position. The rankings aren’t determined by earning power, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with a combination of short- and long-term value taken into account. You won’t find restricted free agents or franchise tagged guys here since they are unlikely to go leave their current clubs.

Player evaluation is always subjective, so we encourage you to make your voices heard in the comments section in cases where you disagree with us.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Updated 3-7-2017, 2:55pm CT

Quarterback:

  1. Mike Glennon
  2. Nick Foles
  3. Brian Hoyer (story)
  4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  5. Colin Kaepernick
  6. Josh McCown
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Christian Ponder
  12. Blaine Gabbert
  13. Geno Smith
  14. Matt Schaub (story)
  15. EJ Manuel

Honorable mention: Ryan Nassib, Landry JonesShaun Hill Mike Glennon (vertical)

Colin Kaepernick’s agents have (wisely) let everyone know that their client will stand for the National Anthem in 2017. That may seem like a minor point, but teams say they would have automatically removed him from consideration if he continued his attention-grabbing protest. He grabbed headlines for his actions on the sidelines last year, but he actually turned in an OK season. From a football standpoint, Kaepernick would make sense for a lot of teams as a QB2 with upside.

Interestingly, this list includes three quarterbacks who couldn’t cut it as the Jets’ starter and three rejects from the 49ers. They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all six of those players (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kaepernick, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert) come with varying degrees of potential and proven effectiveness. Smith, somehow, could reportedly be retained by the Jets and installed as the starter in 2017.

Ryan Nassib is just outside of the top 15 here with EJ Manuel getting the final spot. Despite positive word about his play in practice, Nassib is unproven and the Giants’ apparent lack of interest in re-signing him says a lot. It’s also possible that he might not be 100% after ending the 2016 season on IR with an elbow injury. Manuel, for all his warts, has shown potential in small bursts.

Running back:

  1. Eddie Lacy
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Jamaal Charles
  6. Darren McFadden
  7. Jacquizz Rodgers
  8. Rex Burkhead
  9. Rashad Jennings
  10. Danny Woodhead
  11. Tim Hightower
  12. DeAngelo Williams
  13. Andre Ellington
  14. Chris Johnson
  15. Christine Michael

Honorable mention: Robert Turbin, Travaris Cadet, Benny Cunningham, Lance Dunbar, Bobby Rainey, Brandon BoldenDenard Robinson, James Starks

Adrian Peterson (vertical)As expected, the Vikings have cut Adrian Peterson loose and he is expected to garner interest from contending clubs this week. Some might peg Peterson as the most talented running back in this year’s free agent class, but it all comes down to how you weigh his age and injury history. Peterson has shocked the football world in the past with an incredible comeback, but I’m a little skeptical of his ability to do it again in his age-32 season. Eddie Lacy, who has injury question marks of his own, takes the top spot at the position.

The Patriots believe they won’t be able to match the offers that come in LeGarrette Blount‘s direction. Latavius Murray could circle back to the Raiders, but he won’t be agreeing to a deal with them before free agency opens on Thursday.

Jamaal Charles has the most impressive resume of anyone on this list, with the exception of Peterson. However, no one knows exactly what he can do after playing eight games in the last two years. He’ll turn 31 in December and that’s usually not an indicator of success for running backs.

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