Just as the Patriots took their two highest-profile players off the reserve/COVID-19 list, they placed three more players on it. Sony Michel, Shaq Mason and Derek Rivers landed on the list Saturday, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
Michel has tested positive, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports (on Twitter). Mason and Rivers have not. Although Michel was on New England’s IR list, this is certainly a situation to monitor for the league. The NFL moved the Patriots’ Week 4 game to Monday after Cam Newton‘s positive test surfaced the previous Saturday and postponed the Denver-New England Week 5 game to the following Monday and then, after another Pats positive test emerged Sunday morning, delayed it another week.
Players do not have to test positive for the coronavirus to be placed on teams’ COVID lists; they can land on there if they are deemed close contacts of someone who has tested positive. The Pats took Newton and Stephon Gilmore off their list this week but still have multiple players on it. James Ferentz and defensive end Byron Cowart were already on New England’s COVID list.
Approaching 4pm CT Saturday, the Pats’ Week 6 game against the Broncos remains scheduled for noon Sunday. The NFL was aware of the team’s impending Saturday adjustment to its COVID list, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). However, the Pats did not resume practice until Thursday — after their game against the Broncos was moved off its Monday date — and canceled their in-person workouts Friday because of another positive test.
Michel has been on New England’s IR list since before their Week 4 game against the Chiefs; Mason missed Week 4 and was questionable for Week 6. The Pats will be down Mason and Ferentz from their starting O-line on Sunday, should the game remain scheduled. Rivers has played 21% of the Patriots’ defensive snaps this season; the defensive end has 1.5 sacks.
The Patriots have converted $1.75MM of guard Shaq Mason’s base salary into a signing bonus, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The move will create an extra $1.4MM in cap room for New England, giving them the space required to add wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to the payroll.
Before the 2018 season, Mason inked a new five-year deal with $45MM in new money. That pact included a $12MM signing bonus, $5MM in incentives, and roughly $30MM in the first three years. Now, he’s made a simple adjustment on his contract to help bring Sanu into the fold.
Sanu didn’t come cheap for the Pats, but he’ll give Tom Brady another major weapon to help replace Josh Gordon. The Pats placed Gordon on IR on Wednesday with the belief that he will not be able to suit up again this year. Gordon, meanwhile, believes that he will be able to play again, so it’s a situation to monitor.
In other Pats news: the Patriots changed their minds about releasing tight endEric Tomlinson. Tomlinson has not been released, the Pats say, so he may have a chance to build off of the season-high 38 snaps he logged against the Jets on Monday.
We have already learned a fair amount about the details ofOdell Beckham Jr.‘s new mega-deal with the Giants, but Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv passes along some important information about OBJ’s cap hits. While his contract will provide New York with $3MM of cap relief in 2018, Beckham’s cap number balloons to $21MM in 2019 and will be between $15MM and $19.75MM from 2020 to 2023.
In 2019, then, the Giants could be devoting half of their cap space to just five players, and they are projected to have just $12MM in cap room in 2019 at the moment. That number will increase with several easy cuts and restructures, but Beckham’s contract will force the club to make a few difficult decisions, which Vacchiano explores in greater detail.
Now let’s take a look at a few more notes on recently-signed contracts:
Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports that Shaq Mason‘s extension with the Patriots includes $45MM in new money, a $12MM signing bonus, and $5MM in incentives. He also provides a breakdown of Mason’s guarantees, base salaries, and cap numbers (Twitterlinks).
Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Geno Atkins‘ extension with the Bengals includes a $13MM signing bonus, which is part of $17MM in guaranteed money. Atkins is also eligible for up to $500K per year in per game active bonuses and workout bonuses. Carlos Dunlap‘s new deal with Cincinnati, meanwhile, features $18MM in guarantees and several sacks escalators. Owczarski also provides the base salaries for both players.
The Patriots and guard Shaq Mason have agreed to a massive new deal, according to Mike Garafolo and Herbie Teope of NFL.com (on Twitter). The new five-year contract includes $23.5MM guaranteed and can be worth up to $50MM in total.
Mason, who will earn close to $30MM over the first three years of new deal, has greatly outperformed his status as a former fourth-round pick. In terms of new money, he’s now in the top ten for guards in the NFL.
Some key names appear on the Patriots‘ 2019 prospective UFA list. Among them are Trey Flowers, Chris Hogan, Malcom Brown and now Danny Shelton. But a mainstay on the offensive line is entering his Pats walk year as well, and given what’s happened to the guard market the past two Marches, Shaq Mason can expect to see a number of offers if he reaches the market. However, the fourth-year guard would prefer to stay in New England, Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald notes. If an extension isn’t reached this offseason, Duffy recalls the Pats’ past Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon re-ups, Cannon’s most recent one having occurred in November 2016.
A 2015 fourth-round pick, Mason is only entering his age-25 season. The Pats have traded away key players in recent years and let others, like Solder, walk in free agency. But Mason (No. 9 among guards last season, per Pro Football Focus) might be a cornerstone talent the team will want protecting Tom Brady‘s to-be-determined successor rather than joining Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, Dion Lewis or Malcolm Butler among Patriots discoveries deemed non-essential to the future. It would almost certainly cost the Patriots eight figures per year to retain Mason, but Solder being off the books opens up a high-salary offensive line spot on the Pats’ payroll.
Zack Martin just inked a massive extension with the Cowboys, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com wonders what effect Martin’s contract will have on Shaq Mason‘s future with the Patriots. Mason is not on the same level as Martin or Andrew Norwell — who signed a similarly large deal with the Jaguars this offseason — but he is still a very good guard and should command upwards of $10MM per year when he hits free agency at the end of the 2018 campaign. Reiss is skeptical that New England will pony up that much cash for a guard, so this could be Mason’s last year in Foxborough.
Reiss also observes that other key players, like DE Trey Flowers and K Stephen Gostkowski, are entering the last year of their respective contracts, but he does not offer an opinion as to how those negotiations will play out.
Now for more notes from the AFC:
More details have emerged regarding the arrest of Jets‘ rookie TE Chris Herndon. Herndon, a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, was charged with driving while intoxicated several weeks ago, and per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, an eyewitness told New Jersey State Police that an SUV believed to be driven by Herndon was traveling at least 100 mph. Herndon’s SUV flipped after colliding with another vehicle, which caught fire, and the SUV slid approximately 700 feet after initial contact. Eyewitness reports are notoriously shaky, but if this one is accurate, it will not bode well for Herndon, either from an NFL or legal perspective.
The Bills‘ WR corps is pretty thin overall, so second-year wideout Zay Jones — whom the team selected in the second round of the 2017 draft — is generally considered to have a stranglehold on Buffalo’s No. 2 wideout job opposite Kelvin Benjamin. However, Jones has dealt with some issues this offseason, as he was arrested in March and underwent knee surgery, and new GM Brandon Beane said the East Carolina product will not be handed anything. During an interview with WGR 550 (via Ryan Talbot of NewYorkUpstate.com), Beane said, “He’s not just going to necessarily go right to the top of the line. He’ll have to earn his way. Part of that will just be just getting his feel. He’s only played with Nathan Peterman. He has not got to play with Josh Allen or A.J. [McCarron] yet. So that bond there will just have to form.”
Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle provides an in-depth look at Texans RB D’Onta Foreman‘s recovery from a torn Achilles, which ended his rookie campaign prematurely in November. There is still no specific date for Foreman’s return, and it is unlikely he will be a full participant at the beginning of training camp next month (even the 2018 regular season opener is up in the air at this point). However, the former Texas standout remains confident that he will eventually regain the form that made him a 2017 third-round pick and the heir apparent to Lamar Miller.
The Ravens have some depth along their offensive line, part of which is last year’s fourth-round pick, Nico Siragusa. Siragusa suffered a brutal injury last August, as he tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL. Of course, that ended his rookie campaign before it began, but as Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun writes, Siragusa was able to fully participate in last week’s minicamp. He will compete for a backup role this year and could soon become a starting guard or center if he can remain healthy. Alex Lewis, who also missed the entire 2017 season, is expected to start somewhere along the O-line this year — either at left guard, center, or right tackle — but he was held out of minicamp due to back spasms. Head coach John Harbaugh said Lewis should be ready for training camp, but the Nebraska product’s injury history will be cause for concern until he can manage to stay out of the training room for an extended period of time.
January 31st, 2018 at 10:02pm CST by Dallas Robinson
According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.
If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.908MM in 2018. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.
Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2018 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:
Patriots running back Dion Lewis, who tore his ACL last November, will need a second knee surgery, according to Jim McBride of The Boston Globe (via Twitter). Interestingly, this report came on the heels of a tweet from NESN’s Doug Kyed, who indicated that Lewis had just walked into the team’s locker room with no knee brace. Kyed, however, subsequently deferred to McBride’s report.
Luckily for the Patriots, Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com reports that, although the nature of the procedure is not yet known, it does not involve the ACL or any other ligaments. Depending upon when he has the procedure, it should be about eight to 10 weeks before Lewis can begin training, which means he will begin the season on the PUP list.
Lewis was a key cog of New England’s offense before his ACL tear, rushing 49 times for 234 yards and catching 36 passes for 388 yards. He also scored four total touchdowns, two through the air and two on the ground. After just three games with the club, Lewis signed a team-friendly, two-year extension that gave the diminutive back–who had not played a single regular season snap between 2012 and 2015–some much-needed financial security. He tore his ACL a month later.
It was reported just two weeks ago that Lewis had not suffered a setback in his recovery, and that he was still on track to play Week 1. Now, players like James White and James Develin could see their playing time increase, and while White has been solid in the preseason, Lewis’ injury is still a major blow, particularly in light of Tom Brady‘s suspension.
As if that was not bad enough, McBride also tweets that offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who has been on the PUP list with an undisclosed injury, will be placed on IR. It is unclear whether he will land on season-ending IR, or if he will be given a “Designated to Return” status, though Kyed suspects that Vollmer’s season will indeed be over, since the Patriots could have just kept Vollmer on the PUP list if they expected him to return this year.
Vollmer, when healthy, has been a mainstay at tackle for New England since 2009. However, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked Vollmer as the 42nd-best tackle out of 77 qualified players last season, and he was thought to be on the roster bubble earlier this year. His contract is set to expire at the end of the 2016 campaign, and Marcus Cannon will likely serve as the team’s starting right tackle in Vollmer’s absence.
McBride was not done delivering bad news, as he also tweeted that second-year guard Shaq Mason suffered a broken right hand and will be out indefinitely. As Albert Breer of TheMMQB tweets, these injury reports are especially unwelcome for New England, as running back and offensive line are the only two real question marks on the team’s roster.
The Patriots announced the signings of a number of rookies today, announcing in a press release that they’ve signed eight of their 11 draft picks, and another seven undrafted free agents. Two of those draft picks – fourth-rounder Tre’ Jackson and seventh-rounder Xzavier Dickson – had their deals previously reported, but six of the names are new, and Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun tweets that a ninth draftee has signed his contract as well.
The following picks have signed their contracts, per the team and Wilson:
Jordan Richards, DB (second round)
GeneoGrissom, DE (third round)
Trey Flowers, DE (fourth round)
Shaq Mason, OL (fourth round)
Matthew Wells, OLB (sixth round)
A.J. Derby, TE (sixth round)
Darryl Roberts, CB (seventh round)
Of New England’s 11 draft picks, only first-rounder Malcom Brown and fifth-round long snapper JoeCardona remain unsigned. In addition to locking up most of their draft class, the Pats have formally inked seven undrafted free agents to deals. Here are those players:
DavidAndrews, C, Georgia
Devin Gardner, WR, Michigan ($5K bonus, plus $10K guaranteed salary, per Dave Birkett)
Chris Harper, WR, California ($15K bonus, plus $5K guaranteed salary, per Aaron Wilson)
Jimmy Jean, DB, Alabama-Birmingham
Brandon King, DB, Auburn
Eric Patterson, DB, Ball State
Vince Taylor, DL, Vanderbilt ($2.5K bonus, per Jeff Howe)