- The Seahawks are expected to place the franchise tag on defensive end Frank Clark, but they’ll probably have to target cost-effective veterans rather than other star players as they rebuild their defensive line, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Although Seattle did pursue Ndamukong Suh last year, it’s unlikely the club will go after him again. Instead, cheaper options such as Bennie Logan or Earl Mitchell could make sense for the Seahawks, per Condotta.
The Seahawks started talking contract with star defensive end and free agent-to-be Frank Clark last month, and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks will not let Clark get away. If the two sides cannot work out a long-term deal in the next couple of weeks, Seattle will put the franchise tag — valued at roughly $18MM for defensive ends — on the 25-year-old. That will at least buy them until July to come to terms on a multiyear pact, which could have a total value of up to $90MM. Clark, though, appears perfectly willing to play out the 2019 campaign on the one-year franchise tender, which would make him eligible for free agency again next year.
Although Kam Chancellor will likely never play football again, the Seahawks safety cashed in today. $5.2MM of his salary for 2019 became fully guaranteed today, according to Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. As Henderson points out, Chancellor likely would’ve received the $5.2MM anyway because it is fully guaranteed for injury, but the Seahawks are holding off releasing Chancellor outright for cap purposes.
“The Seahawks carried Chancellor on PUP in 2018 because cutting him would have caused his cap number to balloon”, Henderson writes, adding that “the likely outcome, it seems, is that the Seahawks cut Chancellor later this offseason since the cap penalties won’t be nearly as severe as they were last year.” Chancellor suffered a neck injury in Week 10 of the 2017 season that was apparently serious enough to prevent him from ever being medically cleared to play. Chancellor was a longtime member of the team’s vaunted ‘Legion of Boom’ unit, and made four Pro Bowls with the team. Chancellor was a fifth round pick out of Virginia Tech back in 2010.
- Speaking of the Seahawks, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times sat down with former NFL agent and current CBS Sports Analyst Joel Corry to talk all things related to Seattle’s upcoming offseason. Corry opined that the team would likely franchise tag star defensive end Frank Clark to avoid letting him hit the open market. Clark’s agent has made bold claims in the media about not settling for anything less than a massive deal, which Corry took to mean the Seahawks are “almost going to have to franchise him.” Condotta and Corry both agreed that the recent report the team hasn’t talked extension with Russell Wilson isn’t anything to be concerned about, but Corry also seemed to indicate he expected Wilson’s representatives to be patient and drag things out.
- Although Russell Wilson is entering the final season of his contract, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported earlier this week that the Seahawks have yet to begin extension discussions with their franchise quarterback. Indeed, according to a report from 710 Sports in Seattle, a new deal for Wilson likely won’t be agreed to until at least August. Wilson, 30, inked a four-year, $87.6MM extension in 2015, a deal which — at the time — made him the league’s second highest-paid quarterback. The NFL’s salary cap, and signal-caller salaries, have risen at a steady rate since, leaving Wilson as just the 11th-highest-paid QB on an annual basis. He’ll surely target at least $30MM/year on his next deal, and given Seattle’s willingness to reset positional markets, Wilson could surpass Aaron Rodgers‘ $33.5MM AAV.
- Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor will have $5.2MM of his $10MM 2019 base salary become fully guaranteed on Friday, reports Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. That total was already guaranteed for injury only, and given that Chancellor hasn’t played since 2017 due to a neck injury, he was going to receive that money anyway. Seattle, which placed Chancellor on the physically unable to perform list in 2018, didn’t cut Chancellor last season due to salary cap ramifications, but they’ll likely do so later this offseason, per Henderson. Chancellor, meanwhile, doesn’t have any incentive to announce his retirement given that he’d forfeit money by doing so.
Nearly five years ago, the Texans traded T.J. Yates in order to acquire Akeem Dent. In 2015, they became teammates after Yates re-signed in Houston. The duo will now begin their coaching careers on the same sideline.
The Texans announced Yates and Dent will be part of their staff, joining former standout Houston linebacker Brian Cushing in transitioning to coaching with the franchise. Both Yates and Dent will start at the bottom, the former quarterback joining the team as an offensive assistant and ex-linebacker signing on as a defensive assistant.
Yates was starting for the Texans as recently as the 2017 season, which saw Deshaun Watson go down with a rookie-year-ending injury, and was part of the brigade of passers to audition for the Redskins following injuries to Alex Smith and Colt McCoy. The most recent workout occurred in December, but it sounds like Yates, 31, is going to attempt to move into the coaching ranks.
The North Carolina alum played seven NFL seasons, the most notable action coming in a seven-start rookie campaign that featured Yates — subbing for an injured Matt Schaub — quarterback the Texans to their first playoff win. Yates also played for the Falcons and Dolphins, coming back to Houston after short stays with each team.
Dent, also 31, last played during the 2016 as a Texan, finishing off a three-season Houston tenure. The former third-round pick spent most of his career as a backup linebacker but started for the 2012 Falcons, who claimed the NFC’s top seed that year.
The Texans also hired Carl Smith to replace Sean Ryan as quarterbacks coach. Ryan departed for Detroit to be the Lions’ QBs instructor, and the Texans soon promoted tight ends coach Tim Kelly to OC. Smith spent the past eight seasons with the Seahawks, the first seven as Seattle’s QBs coach and 2018 as an associate head coach. His primary role, obviously, was overseeing Russell Wilson‘s development into one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
Set to take over in guiding Watson, Smith has been an NFL quarterbacks coach since serving as offensive coordinator for the Saints from 1986-96. Smith, 70, served as either a QBs coach or OC with four franchises, also working with the Jaguars and Browns. Smith’s lone season away from the NFL in the past 33 years came as USC’s QBs coach during the Trojans’ most recent national championship year (2004).
The Texans also hired John Aylward as an offensive assistant.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
We heard in early January that the Seahawks would begin contract negotiations with star QB Russell Wilson “soon,” but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes that the two sides have yet to have a single contract discussion. Wilson is under club control through the 2019 season and is set to earn $17MM next year, and he has previously stated he would be willing to play out the final year of his deal and perhaps go year-to-year under the franchise tag. But as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times observes, the fact that Wilson and the Seahawks have not talked contract yet does not mean much (Twitter link). He says the team will get through other team-building matters first and then start exploring extensions, just as it did when it came time to explore a new deal with Wilson in 2015.
Earl Thomas‘ flirtations with the Cowboys have been well-documented. The Cowboys, some say, have flirted back, but the league found no wrongdoing on the part of the organization, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
Over the last year, Thomas has professed his love to the Cowboys in a number of ways. He bowed to the Dallas bench after an interception in September, cut plans short to catch the Cowboys on TV, and likely leaked further word of his interest to the press through backchannels.
Meanwhile, it was alleged that Cowboys staff members made comments to Thomas before a game this year that may have violated tampering laws. It’s unclear whether such comments were actually made, but in any event, the league will not pursue the allegations.
The Cowboys flirted with the idea of a Thomas trade, but all trade discussions were brought to a screeching halt when Thomas was carted off of the field with a season-ending leg fracture. While being carted off of the field, Thomas flipped off his own bench.
After wrapping up his four-year, $40MM extension, Thomas will be an unrestricted free agent in March.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- The Seahawks aren’t likely to franchise tag safety Earl Thomas with the intention of trading him, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times indicates in his latest mailbag. Seattle probably wouldn’t be able to generate much trade interest in Thomas at a ~$12MM, fully guaranteed salary, and the Seahawks likely aren’t willing to risk keeping an unhappy veteran on their roster for another season.
- The Seahawks’ offensive line was a big part of their success this year, as they helped pave the way for their first productive ground game in years. Now Seattle will have to make some decisions on whether they want to keep last year’s line intact. Starting guards D.J. Fluker and J.R Sweezy are both scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this spring, and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes that the team “would like to keep both and will work to get that done.” Both players received below average grades from Pro Football Focus, but Seattle was apparently happy enough with their play.
- Sebastian Janikowski‘s season ended on a low note, as he was injured and unable to kick in the second half of the Seahawks’ Wild Card round playoff loss. That might’ve been his last game as a Seahawk, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times expects Seattle to move on from the impending free agent this offseason. Janikowski is soon to be 41, and his play has clearly declined from his peak, but teams could be interested assuming the Seahawks let him walk. As Condotta notes, the team recently signed former Rams kicker Sam Ficken to a reserve/futures contract, and they could add more competition through the draft or free agency.