Shamar Stephen

Wednesday NFL Transactions: AFC West

Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These BroncosChargersChiefs and Raiders moves will be noted below.

Here are Wednesday’s AFC West transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Denver Broncos

Signed: 

Waived:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad: 

Kansas City Chiefs

Signed:

Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list:

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Claimed:

Waived:

Signed to practice squad:

Broncos Trim Roster To 53

The Broncos joined the fray Tuesday in moving their roster down to 53 players, after cutting ties with several players Monday. Here is how new GM George Paton constructed his initial 53-man roster:

Released:

Waived:

Placed on reserve/PUP list:

The Broncos are expected to bring back both Fleming and Stephen, Paton said (via Denver7’s Troy Renck, on Twitter), with running back Mike Boone and cornerback Michael Ojemudia bound for the regular-season IR list. Both backups are set to miss time to start the season, but the Broncos carried each onto the 53-man roster and will plan for their in-season returns.

Because Fleming and Stephen are vested veterans, they do not need to clear waivers in order to re-sign with the Broncos. Denver signed both Fleming and Stephen this offseason. While Fleming competed with fellow addition Bobby Massie, the latter won the Broncos’ right tackle job. Bassey and Dawson can return after six weeks, though the Broncos’ cornerback contingent is much deeper than last season — to the point the roster may not have room for both. Ojemudia would stand to be Denver’s No. 5 corner upon returning.

Contract Details: Conner, Cockrell, Stephen

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.

Broncos To Sign Shamar Stephen

The Broncos have already made several moves in the secondary this offseason, and now they’re addressing the defensive front. Denver has agreed to terms on a deal with defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, a source told Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post (Twitter link).

There’s some familiarity here, as new Broncos GM George Paton came over from Minnesota, where Stephen has spent most of his career. Stephen was drafted in the seventh-round back in 2014, and was with the Vikings for his first four seasons. He signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks in 2018 before returning home in 2019 with a three-year, $12.45MM contract from the Vikings.

He made it through two years of that pact before being released last month. He started all 16 games for Minnesota last year, racking up 34 tackles and a half sack while playing just over 60 percent of the defensive snaps. He’s started 65 games in his seven-year career, including at least 14 in each of the past three.

Dre’Mont Jones, Shelby Harris, and nose tackle Mike Purcell currently slot in as the three starters up front in Denver’s 3-4 defense. Stephen could play either outside or inside and will presumably fill a rotational role behind those three guys.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings To Release DT Shamar Stephen

The Vikings are set to cut defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. Previously, he was set to carry a cap hit of $5.083MM. Releasing Stephen will save $3.75MM on the books for 2021.

[RELATED: Vikings To Sign Tomlinson]

A seventh-round Vikings pick in 2014, Stephen has spent most of his career in Minnesota, save for his 2018 season with the Seahawks. He’s spent the last two years as a full-time starter, serving as a durable, though not spectacular, run-stuffer.

The recent arrival of Dalvin Tomlinson pushed Stephen out of the equation. The 6’3”, 320-pound defensive tackle will pair with Michael Pierce in Stephen’s place, albeit on a more expensive two-year, $22MM deal.

Before signing Tomlinson, the Vikings were also connected to Trey Hendrickson. Ultimately, the ex-Saints standout signed with the Bengals instead.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Joyner, Titans, Rams, Hart

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed contracts from around the NFL. Twitter links courtesy of Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, unless otherwise noted.

Vikings To Bring Back DT Shamar Stephen

Shamar Stephen spent the 2018 season with the Seahawks but will return to the Vikings next season. The free agent defensive tackle will sign a three-year deal with Minnesota, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets.

The Seahawks used Stephen as a starter for most of their playoff-qualifying campaign. Stephen was a full-time starter for the 2016 Vikings but was used as a backup prior to his free agency defection.

This move may be a more cost-effective option than retaining Sheldon Richardson, but it’s not certain the high-profile interior defender is out of the picture for the Vikings just yet. Although, Minnesota is low on cap space.

Stephen’s impending Twin Cities return will continue the Seattle-to-Minnesota defensive line pipeline. Richardson joined the Vikings in 2018, and after a short Seahawks stay, Tom Johnson returned to the Vikings after being cut last year. Johnson is also a free agent.

A seventh-round Vikings pick in 2014, Stephen registered a career-high two sacks last season. He played 538 snaps with the Seahawks, grading as Pro Football Focus’ No. 98 overall interior defender in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Broncos, Raiders, Seahawks

One team that will likely be undergoing a lot of change this offseason is the Broncos. Vance Joseph seems almost certain to be fired at the end of the season, and the shakeup will likely go well beyond the coaching staff. John Elway will have decisions to make about a lot of the roster, including quarterback Case Keenum, and there will be some tough calls. To preview the tumultuous offseason ahead, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic took a look at the roster and projected who is likely to be gone in 2019.

We’ve already known that outside linebacker Shane Ray and safety Su’a Cravens are extremely unlikely to be back in a Broncos uniform next year, and Jhabvala thinks several other big name defenders are in danger as well. She writes that cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Brandon Marshall, both starters the last few seasons, are both unlikely to be brought back. Jhabvala notes that the team traded Aqib Talib this past offseason because they were confident Roby was ready for a bigger role, but they’ve since soured on the 2015 first round pick. Among other players Jhabvala lists as being in danger are center Matt Paradis, who she thinks might be priced out of the Broncos’ range, and guard Max Garcia, who had already been demoted before tearing his ACL earlier this year.

Here’s more from the league’s western divisions:

  • The Raiders are still looking to upgrade their secondary, but they now view third year safety Karl Joseph as a building block for the future, according to Scott Bair of NBC Sports. Bair writes that the team was shopping the 2016 first round pick at the trade deadline, but is now “happy they didn’t deal him” because of his play the second half of the season. The West Virginia alum has received very good marks from Pro Football Focus, especially recently, and has been a large part of Oakland’s recent resurgence.
  • The Seahawks clinched a playoff berth with their huge win over the Chiefs last Sunday night, and got even more good news this week. Starting guard J.R. Sweezy suffered what initially appeared to be a serious foot injury, but coach Pete Carroll said he thinks Sweezy will be able to play in the first round of the playoffs (Twitter link via Brady Henderson of ESPN). Sweezy has started every game this year for Seattle’s reborn offensive line, and while Carroll is notoriously overly optimistic when diagnosing injuries, this is still good news.
  • Speaking of the Seahawks, their defensive tackle Shamar Stephen “is closing in on a significant incentive bonus”, according to Henderson. Stephen is due a $500K bonus if he plays between 45 and 49.99 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps, or $700K if he plays between 50-54.99 percent. Stephen is currently playing 50.16% of their defensive snaps entering their Week 17 game, so he’s on track to hit it. Considering Stephen’s base salary this year was only $800K, this would be a massive bonus for him to reach.

West Notes: Broncos, Seahawks, Matthews

Sam Darnold‘s itinerary is starting to come into focus. He will spend Friday with the Broncos in Los Angeles working out for Denver brass, Albert Breer of SI.com reports (on Twitter). This will come after Darnold spends Wednesday in Cleveland visiting the Browns. Josh Allen is also expected to visit the Browns on Wednesday. As for the Broncos, they’ve now been linked to meetings or workouts with Darnold, Rosen and Baker Mayfield. And it would seem likely, judging by the type of quarterback prospects John Elway has invested in during his GM tenure, that the 6-foot-5 Allen will also meet with the Broncos. Denver signed Case Keenum but is participating in a thorough process to determine whether they should follow the 2016 Eagles’ or 2017 Bears’ routes by subsequently adding a high draft choice at football’s marquee position. Or, this could be partially about setting up a possible trade-down scenario.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions.

  • Eric Decker‘s best seasons came as Peyton Manning‘s No. 2 wideout, and the eight-year veteran remains a UFA. In Denver for non-football reasons, the 31-year-old receiver expressed interest in returning to the Broncos. “There’s no holdup on my end. Whoever you need to call for me, whoever you need to reach out to, please do,” Decker said in an radio interview with former Broncos wideout Brandon Stokley (via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, Twitter link) this week. “Everything’s got to align; the stars have to kind of align for it to all work. But I’m very receptive to make it happen.” The Broncos have needed a No. 3 wideout since Wes Welker‘s exit, with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders having to carry most of the aerial attack’s load over the past three years. Decker caught 54 passes for 563 yards and a touchdown for the Titans last season, playing in all 16 games after suffering severe injuries in 2016.
  • Jordan Matthews is seeking a deal worth at least $5MM per year, Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com tweets. The Cardinals had an offer out to Matthews, but that was before news of their Brice Butler signing emerged. Matthews also visited the Packers and Patriots.
  • John Schneider said Barkevious Mingo was “pretty much” the Seahawks‘ top priority this offseason, and Pete Carroll detailed (via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com) what the former top-10 pick’s role will be in Seattle. Mingo will slide into the spot Bruce Irvin used to occupy, playing outside linebacker in base sets and shifting to defensive end on passing downs. Schneider said the former LSU standout will have more pass-rushing opportunities with the Seahawks than he’s had at other stops. Mingo has recorded two sacks over the past three seasons.
  • Despite Tom Johnson being a Vikings starter last season, the Seahawks want his former teammate who trekked to Seattle with him, Shamar Stephen, to be a starter over Johnson this year. Henderson notes Stephen, not Johnson, is in line to start alongside nose tackle Jarran Reed. Seattle’s eyeing the soon-to-be 34-year-old Johnson as a rotational presence. A 16-game starter for the 2016 Vikings, Stephen played a depth role behind Johnson and Linval Joseph last season.
  • Jordan Taylor is now the clubhouse leader to be the 2018 Broncos‘ punt returner, but he won’t have a chance to work with the team over the offseason. Multiple hip injuries required surgery on one hip labrum and rehab on the other. He won’t be available until training camp, per Troy Renck of Denver7.

Contract Details: Gore, Osweiler, Waddle

Some details on recent free agent deals:

  • Brock Osweiler, QB (Dolphins): One year, $880K ($790K base salary + $90K signing bonus). $630K guaranteed (Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9 News Denver).
  • Frank Gore, RB (Dolphins): One year, $1.105MM. $90K signing bonus (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com).
  • LaAdrian Waddle, OT (Patriots): One year, $1.5MM. Includes $800K base salary, $200K signing bonus, $50K workout bonus and $450K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Mike Reiss of ESPN).
  • Tom Johnson, DT (Seahawks): One year, $2.1MM. Includes $950K base salary, $900K signing bonus, $250K in per-game active roster bonuses (Link Via Brady Henderson of ESPN).
  • Shamar Stephen, DT (Seahawks): One year, $2.1MM. Includes $800K base salary, $1MM signing bonus and $300K in per-game active roster bonuses (Link Via Brady Henderson of ESPN).