Sony Michel

NFL’s Fifth-Year Option Salaries For 2021

The NFL’s 2021 salary cap has been set at $182.5MM, marking the league’s first reduction in a decade. With that, the league has also ironed out the value of this year’s fifth-round option for 2018 first-round picks.

Here’s the full rundown, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter):

1. Baker Mayfield, Browns, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

2. Saquon Barkley, Giants, RB — $7.217MM (1x Pro Bowl)

3. Sam Darnold, Jets, QB — $18.858MM (playing time)

4. Denzel Ward, Browns, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

5. Bradley Chubb, Broncos, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

6. Quenton Nelson, Colts, G — $13.754MM (2x Pro Bowl)

7. Josh Allen, Bills, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

8. Roquan Smith, Bears, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

9. Mike McGlinchey, 49ers, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

10. Josh Rosen, Cardinals, QB*

11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steelers, S (drafted by Dolphins) — $10.612MM (2x Pro Bowl)

12. Vita Vea, Buccaneers, DT — $7.638MM

13. Daron Payne, Washington, DT — $8.529MM (playing time)

14. Marcus Davenport, Saints, DE — $9.553MM

15. Kolton Miller, Raiders, OT — $10.88MM (playing time)

16. Tremaine Edmunds, Bills, LB — $12.716MM (1x Pro Bowl)

17. Derwin James, Chargers, S — $9.052MM (1x Pro Bowl)

18. Jaire Alexander, Packers, CB — $13.294MM (1x Pro Bowl)

19. Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys, LB — $9.145MM

20. Frank Ragnow, Lions, C — $12.657MM (1x Pro Bowl)

21. Billy Price, Bengals, C — $10.413MM

22. Rashaan Evans, Titans, LB — $9.735MM (playing time)

23. Isaiah Wynn, Patriots, OT — $10.413MM

24. D.J. Moore, Panthers, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

25. Hayden Hurst, Falcons, TE (Drafted by Ravens) — $5.428MM

26. Calvin Ridley, Falcons, WR — $11.116MM (playing time)

27. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks, RB — $4.523MM

28., Steelers, S Terrell Edmunds — $6.753MM (playing time)

29. Taven Bryan, Jaguars, DT — $7.638MM

30. Mike Hughes, Vikings, CB — $12.643MM

31. Sony Michel, Patriots, RB — $4.523MM

32. Lamar Jackson, Ravens, QB — $23.106MM (1x Pro Bowl)

* Rosen was released from his original contract and, therefore, is not option-eligible 

As a refresher, the fifth-year option year is now fully guaranteed. In the past, it was guaranteed for injury only. The values are also dependent on certain performance metrics:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the 3rd-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • 75%+ snaps in two of their first three seasons
    • 75%+ average across all three seasons
    • 50%+ in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will get the average of the 3rd-25th top salaries at their position.

Patriots Activate RB Sony Michel

Following a six-game absence, Sony Michel is back with the Patriots. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that New England has activated the running back from injured reserve. The team will waive Hjalte Froholdt to make room on the roster. Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets that the Patriots have also waived defensive end Derek Rivers.

Michel started each of New England’s first three games this season, but a quad injury has kept him out of the lineup for the past month-plus. It’s unlikely the 25-year-old will slide back to the top of the Patriots depth chart; former third-rounder Damien Harris has three 100-plus-yard performances since Michel went down, while both Rex Burkhead and James White continue to see work out of the backfield.

The Georgia product has been a bit trick-or-treat since being selected with the 31st-overall pick in the 2018 draft. He had a dynamic playoff run in 2018, rushing for 336 yards and six touchdowns in three games en route to a Super Bowl championship. However, Michel only averaged 3.7 yards per attempt in 2019, and he didn’t play more than 38-percent of his team’s offensive snaps through the first three weeks of the season.

Rivers was a third-round pick by the Patriots in 2017, and he’s already missed a pair of seasons due to injuries. In total, the 26-year-old has seen time in 14 games, compiling six tackles and 2.5 sacks. Froholdt, a fourth-round pick by the Patriots in 2019, appeared in eight games this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Williams, Chiefs, OBJ, Patriots

Adam Gase insisted the Jets were not trading Quinnen Williams, but that did not stop teams from reaching out about a potential trade. The Jets received inquiries from multiple teams on their standout defensive tackle before last week’s trade deadline, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Although GM Joe Douglas was not with the team when the Jets selected Williams — during a draft in which Gase was not exactly in lock-step with previous GM Mike Maccagnan — the team views the ex-Alabama prospect’s talent and positional value to be too great to trade. After a less impactful rookie year, Williams has broken through as an NFL sophomore. He has three sacks and seven tackles for loss — already bettering his 2019 numbers.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • The ChiefsAndy Reid-era front office has undergone changes, thanks to the executive talent the organization has amassed. Ryan Poles may well be poised to follow Chris Ballard and Brett Veach to a GM job, with Field Yates of ESPN.com noting (via Twitter) the current Chiefs exec is firmly on the GM radar. The Chiefs have twice promoted Poles over the past three years, moving him to college scouting director in 2017 and to assistant player personnel director a year later. Should Poles land a GM job, the Chiefs would be entitled to third-round draft compensation.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. underwent successful ACL surgery Tuesday, the Browns announced. The team expects OBJ to be ready for the 2021 season. It is not certain if the 28-year-old wideout will, in fact, be with the Browns for the ’21 campaign. His through-2023 contract contains no guaranteed money, and his star has certainly fallen since being dealt from New York to Cleveland. Beckham landed in trade rumors last year and this offseason, and rumblings have resurfaced about the Browns dealing the John Dorsey-era acquisition in 2021.
  • When Sony Michel returns from IR, it is unlikely the third-year Patriots back will recapture his previous role. Damien Harris stood out in training camp and has played well since debuting. The 2019 third-round pick should not be expected to lose his lead role in New England’s backfield, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Harris did suffer a chest injury Monday, but it remains to be seen if the former Alabama back will miss any time. Harris is averaging 5.6 yards per carry this season. While Michel is at 6.7, that is on just 26 totes. The former first-round pick’s career YPC average sits at 4.2.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/31/20

Here is the league’s avalanche of Halloween minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Patriots Place Sony Michel, Shaq Mason, Derek Rivers On Reserve/COVID-19 List

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.

To help with depth, the Pats have elevated tackle Caleb Benenoch, tight end Rashod Berry, defensive end Nick Thurman and wide receiver Isaiah Zuber from their practice squad to their active roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Place Sony Michel On IR, Activate Damien Harris

The Patriots are doing some major shuffling with their backfield. New England is placing running back Sony Michel on injured reserve and activating fellow running back Damien Harris off IR, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The team also activated receiver Gunner Olszewski and placed safety Cody Davis on injured reserve.

With the new rules this year, Michel will have to miss at least three games before returning. It’s a bummer for Michel since he was coming off by far his best game of the season, when he rushed for 117 yards on only nine carries against the Raiders. He had been a disappointment through the first couple of weeks, and will now be hitting the shelf. Fortunately, Rapoport noted in a follow-up tweet that he was told Michel could be activated relatively quickly and it’s not a season-ending injury.

A third-round pick last year, Harris barely played as a rookie and was a healthy scratch most weeks. He reportedly had a strong summer though, and was looking like he might be the Patriots’ starter to open the year before a hand injury sent him to IR. Now he’s back and figures to be in the mix tonight against Kansas City, although with James White and Rex Burkhead also present it’s unclear how much run he’ll get.

That being said, with Michel hitting injured reserve there’s a clear lane for Harris to shine if he can make the most of the opportunity. With Cam Newton out due to COVID-19 and Brian Hoyer getting the start at quarterback, the Pats figure to be running the ball frequently on Monday night. A first-round pick in 2018, Michel impressed as a rookie before taking a step back last year. This quad injury he picked up against Las Vegas certainly isn’t what he needed to get back on track.

Olszewski, a 2019 UDFA, served as New England’s punt returner for half of last season. Davis is a core special teamer who has yet to play a defensive snap this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Douglas, Pats, White

Jets head coach Adam Gase may soon receive his walking papers, and though the leash for GM Joe Douglas will be a bit longer, Douglas is not without blame for the club’s struggles over his first 16 months or so on the job. In a piece that colorfully recounts all of Douglas’ missteps, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News includes an interesting nugget indicating that Douglas nixed an impending agreement for free agent DB Logan Ryan — whom Douglas reportedly coveted — because he was unhappy that the agreement was leaked to the media.

To be fair, other reporters wrote that Ryan’s asking price was the real obstacle to the deal, and Mehta himself has noted on more than one occasion that Douglas is operating under owner-imposed financial constraints, so it’s unclear what actually prevented Ryan from joining Gang Green. And obviously the Jets would still look just as directionless with Ryan as they do without, but when Douglas’ body of work is laid out in black-and-white, one can understand any skepticism Jets fans might feel about the GM’s abilities.

Now for more from the AFC East:

  • Doug Kyed of NESN.com believes the Patriots should try to trade for a top-flight wide receiver. His piece was published before QB Cam Newton threw the ball all over the place in the team’s narrow loss to the Seahawks in Week 2, but in New England’s Week 3 triumph over the Raiders, it was clear that Newton could use another receiving threat. After posting eight catches for 179 yards against Seattle, Julian Edelman caught just two passes for 23 yards against Las Vegas, and the Pats want to reduce Edelman’s snap count. Meanwhile, N’Keal Harry is still coming into his own, and Damiere Byrd is hardly irreplaceable. Kyed believes a player like the Bears’ Allen Robinson would be a great fit, and that New England should not be hesitant to give up 2021 draft capital.
  • Prior to the Patriots‘ win over Las Vegas, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com suggested that Sony Michel needed a big game to keep his job as New England’s RB1, and Michel delivered. He reeled off 117 yards on just nine carries, though he and J.J. Taylor both had 11 touches and Rex Burkhead had 13 (three of which ended in touchdowns). As usual, it looks like the Pats will take a committee approach to their backfield, and the committee will become even more crowded when Damien Harris returns from IR. Still, it’s encouraging for New England that Michel, who has not exactly lived up to his status as a former first-rounder, looked as good as he did.
  • The Bills signed cornerback Tre’Davious White to a massive extension shortly before the season started, a deal that temporarily positioned him as the highest-paid CB in the league in terms of AAV ($17.25MM). But as Jason Wolf of the Buffalo News writes, some league observers believe Buffalo came out ahead in that deal, as Jalen Ramsey signed a five-year, $105MM extension shortly after the ink dried on White’s contract. The NFL world knew that Ramsey’s deal was coming soon, so pundits like Joel Corry of CBS Sports believe White could have gotten himself at least $19MM per year if he had been more patient, and that the Bills were wise to strike when they did. Of course, with $55MM in guaranteed money coming his way, most people won’t be too sad for White.

Patriots Activate Sony Michel From PUP

The Patriots officially activated running back Sony Michel from the PUP list on Wednesday. It’s a promising sign for Michel, who was previously considered questionable for the start of the season. 

Michel underwent foot surgery earlier this year, prompting the Pats to sign Lamar Miller as additional insurance. Michel has undergone surgery in each of the last three offseasons, including knee operations in 2018 and ’19. This was less-than-ideal for the 25-year-old, especially after a so-so season. Michel surpassed 900 rushing yards for the second straight year and led the team in rushing, but he averaged just 3.7 yards per tote, down from 4.5 per carry as a rookie.

Had Michel remained on the PUP list to start the year, he would have been shelved for the first six weeks of the season. Now, he’s set to lead the pack once again, with support from Miller, James WhiteRex Burkhead and Damien HarrisBrandon Bolden, meanwhile, will spend 2020 away from the team after opting out.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sony Michel Uncertain For Week 1?

The Patriots agreed to terms with Lamar Miller on Monday. Part of the reasoning may stem from Sony Michel‘s status.

Michel underwent foot surgery earlier this offseason, and Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes the former first-round pick is not certain to be ready in time for Week 1 (subscription required). The Patriots have Michel on their active/PUP list, and Howe adds his recovery does not appear to have a near-future end date.

This marks the third straight offseason in which Michel has undergone surgery. Knee operations transpired in 2018 and ’19. Michel’s foot procedure came after a somewhat disappointing season. While Michel surpassed 900 rushing yards for the second straight season and was far and away the Patriots’ rushing leader, he received 38 more carries in 2019 and averaged just 3.7 yards per tote — down from 4.5 as a rookie.

Were Michel not to practice during training camp, the Pats could place him on their reserve/PUP list — which would shelve him for the season’s first six weeks. But it is not clear if the Georgia product needs that long to recover.

The Patriots lost Brandon Bolden to an opt-out choice but still roster Miller, James WhiteRex Burkhead and Damien Harris. Were Michel to land on the reserve/PUP list, this quartet would be in line to make New England’s 53-man roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sony Michel Underwent Foot Surgery

Patriots running back Sony Michel has once again gone under the knife. As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports, Michel underwent foot surgery last month.

Luckily, the procedure was more of a “maintenance-based” one, but it’s still unclear if Michel will be fully healthy for training camp or if he will open camp on the PUP list. Last June, the Georgia product underwent a knee scope and spent the first two days of TC on the PUP list before returning to the field. He also had fluid drained from his knee during training camp of his rookie season in 2018, and he twisted his knee in a regular season game later that year and missed two games as a result.

Michel, 25, ultimately played in all 16 regular season games for the Pats last year. However, he was not especially impressive, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and accounting for a modest 23 defense-adjusted yards above replacement.

But he averaged 4.5 yards per carry in his rookie season across a similar number of attempts, and he does have a first-round pedigree, so he figures to continue playing a major role in the New England offense in 2020. However, the Pats are also rostering promising 2019 third-rounder Damien Harris, who may start to push Michel if he does not start performing at a higher level.

As they transition to Jarrett Stidham at quarterback, the Patriots may be leaning especially heavily on their running game in 2020. They will need Michel and the rest of the RB contingent, which also features talented pass-catching back James White, to be at their best.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.