Stefon Diggs

Vikings Approach Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs About Extensions

Now that Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter have signed their extensions, the Vikings’ defensive fortification efforts are nearly complete. They now have Harrison Smith, Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Kendricks and Hunter under contract long-term. Barr represents the final piece for this current veteran core.

Stefon Diggs is the other key Viking whose contract is up after 2018, and Minnesota brass has been talking with both Barr and Diggs about extensions. Representatives for both Barr and Diggs have been contacted by the Vikings for extension talks, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

These conversations began in June, per Krammer. This would continue the summer-extension blueprint Rick Spielman‘s utilized the past three years. Griffen, Rhodes and Joseph all agreed to deals within a 10-day span around the start of the Vikings’ previous training camp, and Smith and Hunter re-upped with Minnesota in June of 2016 and ’18, respectively. Kendricks agreed to his extension this April.

Barr said recently scant progress had been made on his extension, but the Vikings are in the final stages of this years-long plan — one that saw Spielman authorize re-ups for Joseph and Griffen in 2017 despite the duo having multiple seasons remaining on their old contracts. Finalizing deals for Diggs and Barr would represent a significant victory for Minnesota’s front office, but they won’t be as easy now that a fully guaranteed $28MM-AAV deal for Kirk Cousins is on the books through 2020. The Vikings possess approximately $14MM in cap space.

PFR recently looked at the extension cases for both Barr and Diggs, and CBS Sports’ Joel Corry believes the Vikings would let these starters reach the open market rather than using the franchise tag. Due to on- and off-ball ‘backers being classified together, a Barr tag would cost the Vikes more than $16MM. Diggs, who is set to make $1.96MM this season, would see a $17MM-plus tag if the Vikings took that course of action next March. So, the next few weeks will be critical for the Vikings.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extension Candidate: Stefon Diggs

Back in May, we learned that the Vikings hoped to extend the contracts of a few of their key young players: Anthony BarrStefon Diggs, and Danielle Hunter Hunter just signed a lucrative long-term deal at the end of June, which allows the team to turn its attention to Barr and Diggs. We have already examined Barr as an extension candidate, so now let’s take a deeper look into Diggs’ case for a new contract.

Earlier this decade, Diggs was one of the most sought-after high school recruits, a consensus five-star prospect who landed scholarship offers from blue-blood programs like USC, Ohio State, and Auburn. But Diggs, a Maryland native, spurned those offers and opted to play for his hometown school, which delighted Terrapins fans but which may have had a negative impact on his earning power during the early stages of his professional career. Although Diggs flashed his breathtaking talent at Maryland, he was held back to some degree by poor quarterback play and by injuries. so when he elected to forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft in 2015, he slipped to the fifth round, where the Vikings finally scooped him up (Diggs’ smallish stature also didn’t help his cause).

It would be hard for Diggs to complain too much, though, as he has established himself as one of the best young wideouts in the league during his first three years in Minnesota, and he will head into his platform year with the prospect of catching passes from the best quarterback he has ever played with, Kirk Cousins. If all goes according to plan, Diggs could be one of the hottest commodities on the open market next offseason, and the Vikings would like to lock him up before that happens.

As usual, there are some issues for both sides to think about when negotiating Diggs’ big payday. Diggs has yet to top 1,000 yards in a season, and his professional career, much like his collegiate one, has been hampered by injuries. Though Diggs has not yet missed significant time as a pro, he has dealt with groin issues in each of the last two seasons, and he said he was “never the same” in 2017 after suffering a groin injury in Week 4. His knee and hip have also given him problems.

On the other hand, the receiver market has been booming, and Joel Corry of CBS Sports believes that Davante Adams‘ four-year, $58.5MM extension with the Packers would be a realistic foundation for contract discussions (after all, Adams has not yet cracked the 1,000-yard mark either, and he only recently became Green Bay’s No. 1 receiving option). Alternatively, now that the Vikings have Hunter under contract for the foreseeable future, Diggs could be hit with the franchise tag next offseason, though the $17MM projected tag number for receivers may be unpalatable for Minnesota, regardless of how good Diggs is in 2018.

Corry suggests that, in light of the massive contracts that relatively unaccomplished receivers are pulling down, Diggs may be inclined to test the open market even if he ultimately wants to remain with the Vikings. The guess here, though, is that the two sides will reach an accord before Diggs officially hits free agency. Minnesota has a track record of extending its key players during contract years, and the chance to lock in a boatload of guaranteed money may be too enticing for Diggs to pass up, as he has played the first few years of his career on a bargain fifth-round rookie deal. He will likely not reset the receiver market even if he becomes a free agent, and Minnesota will certainly pay him like a top-10 player at his position. A four-year pact in the neighborhood of $60MM, with $20MM or so in guarantees, seems like a good bet.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Diggs, Rams, Joyner

Here’s a look at the NFC:

  • There’s a good chance that Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and wide receiver Stefon Diggs will hit the open market in 2019 if they don’t sign contract extensions, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) opines. Corry estimates that the linebacker and wide receiver franchise tags will be $16.325MM and $17MM, respectively, and that may be too pricey for Minnesota’s liking. On Wednesday, we evaluated Barr as an extension candidate.
  • Kirk Cousins‘ open-minded approach to the franchise tag should serve as inspiration to this year’s franchise tagged players, Albert Breer of The MMQB argues. That includes Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner, who is set to make $11.287MM this year and would call for a $13.544MM salary if tagged again next year. By standing pat, Joyner would receive either $11.287MM this year and a trip to free agency in March, or nearly $25MM across two seasons before hitting the open market in 2020. That could give Joyner the confidence he needs to stand his ground in extension talks, though this year’s disappointing free agent market for safeties could also steer him towards taking a deal.
  • Eagles running back Matt Jones knows that he needs to get it together if he wants to stick in the NFL. “It could be [my last chance],” Jones said (via Tom Moore of The Morning Call). “That don’t scare me at all. I got my eyes on the prize. I’m here and I’m ready to work.” Jones inked a two-year, $1.5MM deal with the Eagles this offseason, but the contract contains zero guarantees.

Vikings Looking To Extend Barr, Diggs, Hunter

Despite spending heavily on Kirk Cousins this offseason, the Vikings are still intent on trying to keep their core of young players together. This includes Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs and Danielle Hunter, who the team hopes to extend according to Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Though they hope to get the deals done, the Vikings know that will be a tough task. General manager Rick Spielman said, “We’re still going to try. Is it going to be easy? No.”

Diggs and Hunter are some of the best bargains in the business at the moment, both costing just $1.9MM against the cap in 2018. The Vikings picked up Barr’s fifth-year option in 2017 and he is set to cost $12.3MM in the upcoming season. All three deals are set to expire after the 2018 season.

Scoggins adds that Spielman and team executive vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski have been planning for this for three years, which led them to signing Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph to extensions despite them having additional years remaining.

Though it might be difficult to keep everyone around, if they are able to crunch the numbers they won’t have any pushback from ownership. Spielman said they have never heard “no” from the Wilfs on a potential deal.

It would be difficult to see the Vikings parting with Diggs, who just authored arguably the most famous play in team history when his touchdown grab vs. New Orleans as time expired sent Minnesota to the NFC Championship game.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2018 Proven Performance Escalators

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.Jay Ajayi (Vertical)

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:

49ers: Trent Brown, T; Eli Harold, LB

Bears: Adrian Amos, S

Bengals: Tyler Kroft, TE; Josh Shaw, DB

Bills: John Miller, G

Broncos: Max Garcia, G; Trevor Siemian, QB

Browns: Duke Johnson, RB

Buccaneers: Kwon Alexander, LB

Cardinals: David Johnson, RB; J.J. Nelson, WR

Chargers: Kyle Emanuel, LB

Chiefs: Chris Conley, WR; Steven Nelson, CB

Colts: Henry Anderson, DE; Mark Glowinski, G; Denzelle Good, OL

Dolphins: Bobby McCain, CB

Eagles: Jay Ajayi, RB; Jordan Hicks, LB

Falcons: Grady Jarrett, DT

Jaguars: A.J. Cann, OL

Lions: Quandre Diggs, CB

Packers: Jake Ryan, LB

Panthers: Daryl Williams, T

Patriots: Trey Flowers, DE; Shaq Mason, G

Raiders: Clive Walford, TE

Rams: Jamon Brown, G

Ravens: Za’Darius Smith, LB

Redskins: T.J. Clemmings, OL; Jamison Crowder, WR

Saints: Tyeler Davison, DT

Seahawks: Tyler Lockett, WR

Steelers: Jesse James, TE

Vikings: Stefon Diggs, WR; Danielle Hunter, DE

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

NFC Notes: Peterson, Vikings, Kuechly

Bruce Arians came up with the idea for the Cardinals to acquire Adrian Peterson, doing so after his team’s blowout loss to the Eagles. Arians was driving to the team facility when the concept emerged, Lars Anderson of Bleacher Report notes. The Cardinals coach watched every Peterson carry with the Saints to make sure the 32-year-old future Hall of Famer still had enough to be a solution for an Arizona rushing attack that still ranks last in the league because of its anemic start. Arians then took the idea to Steve Keim, who called Saints GM Mickey Loomis, Anderson reports.

He ran hard and could get something out of nothing,” Arians said. “We had finesse backs on our team. I was looking for that power guy. He was it, brother, he was it.”

Immediately installed as Arizona’s starter, Peterson turned back the clock and rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns in his Cardinals debut. The former five-time All-Pro said previously he wants to play into his late 30s, but that dialogue stopped in New Orleans. But Peterson has resumed that talking point now as a Cardinal, eyeing “four or five” more seasons.

I felt like my ability was going to waste in New Orleans,” Peterson said, via Anderson. “The system just wasn’t a good fit for me. But I still want to play four or five more years. I still can run a high-4.3 40. And I’ve always loved getting the ball deep in the backfield, which is what we’re doing here. I feel like I’m built for this offense.”

Here’s the latest from the NFC, shifting to Peterson’s first two NFL employers.

  • The Vikings are starting Case Keenum again this week, the team announced. Mike Zimmer, though, said he believes Sam Bradford will play again this season, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. This will be Keenum’s fifth start of the year. Bradford’s status has gone from somewhat surprising inactive in Week 2 to being potentially out for six weeks to having the knee be categorized as worse than what’s been reported. Bradford consulted with a specialist last week, Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com notes. The eighth-year quarterback saw this same specialist previously, per Zimmer. Teddy Bridgewater returned to practice but likely remains far away from playing in a game.
  • Luke Kuechly will miss the Panthers‘ Week 7 tilt against the Bears after suffering a concussion in Week 6. David Mayo will replace Kuechly at middle linebacker, Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk notes. Kuechly has missed time because of concussions in each of the past two seasons but was progressing in the protocol earlier this week.
  • Minnesota will also be without Stefon Diggs this weekend, with the Vikes’ No. 1 wide receiver set to miss a second straight game because of a groin injury.
  • Saints practice squad offensive lineman Cameron Tom recently had his salary bumped to $27K+ per week, according to a source who spoke with Nick Underhill of The Advocate. He was previously making $7,200 per week. Assuming he stays on the taxi squad through the end of the season, he’ll earn $344K as opposed to $122K. His weekly pay is now equal to a minimum salaried player on the 53-man roster ($465K). It’s a sign that the Saints think highly of Tom and that other teams have thought about signing him away.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Vikings’ Bradford, Diggs Out With Injuries

The Vikings announced that they will be without both quarterback Sam Bradford and wide receiver Stefon Diggs when they take on the Packers this weekend. It’s perhaps not a great sign that both players have been ruled out completely two days before gametime. Sam Bradford (Vertical)

Bradford took a beating in the Vikings’ win over the Bears and was forced off of the field in the first half. He has no new injury to his knee, but the “wear and tear” he suffered is cause for concern given his history. The good news is that the Vikings won with Case Keenum under center, so they feel alright about starting him again this week. If they have to go longer than one week without their top QB, however, it could be a problem for the Vikings.

Diggs, meanwhile, was not able to practice on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday due to a groin issue. Groin injuries have a tendency to linger, so it’s a situation to monitor even beyond Week 6. Through five games, Diggs has 23 catches for 395 yards and four touchdowns. He hasn’t had a ton of grabs, but he has the fifth-highest receiving yardage average in the NFL on a per-game basis. Without Diggs, the Vikings will be leaning even more on Adam Thielen (No. 6 in per-game receiving yards) and the recently activated Michael Floyd.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Diggs, Packers, Rudock

The Vikings are unlikely to have their top wide receiver, Stefon Diggs, for their Thanksgiving showdown with the NFC North rival Lions, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link). Diggs, who’s dealing with a knee injury and hasn’t practiced this week, easily paces the Vikings in receptions (67), targets (87) and yards (747). Minnesota defeated the Texans in its only game without Diggs this season, but the Vikings have lost four of five since and now have the same record (6-4) as first-place Detroit.

More from the division:

  • At 4-6, the Packers have been among the NFL’s most disappointing teams this year, but club president Mark Murphy gave votes of confidence to general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy in an interview with WTMJ Radio (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). “I do hear from a lot of fans. And I tell fans: Like them, I’m disappointed,” Murphy said. “Certainly, the season hasn’t gone the way we had all hoped, but there’s a lot of football left to be played. And the other thing I tell people is, you’ve got to look at Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy’s track record.” Green Bay is currently in danger of missing the playoffs for just the third time since 2006, the year Thompson hired McCarthy. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported Sunday that both Thompson and defensive coordinator Dom Capers could be in trouble at year’s end. The Packers then lost in resounding fashion, 42-24, in Washington.
  • Before the Lions elevated quarterback Jake Rudock to their active roster Wednesday, the division-rival Bears tried to sign the sixth-round rookie away, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) adds that Chicago wasn’t the only team looking to pluck him.
  • Green Bay won’t get injured running back Eddie Lacy or concussed cornerback Sam Shields back this season, which will surely make its uphill climb all the more difficult. Jay Cutler, on the other hand, might return this year for Chicago.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Vikings Sign Entire Draft Class

Well, that was pretty easy for the Vikings. While most teams tend to sign their draft choices in drips and drabs, the Vikings announced that they have signed their entire 2015 draft class. Those ten rookies are:

  • Round 1, CB Trae Waynes
  • Round 2: LB Eric Kendricks
  • Round 3: DE Danielle Hunter
  • Round 4: OL T.J. Clemmings
  • Round 5: TE Mycol Pruitt
  • Round 5: WR Stefon Diggs
  • Round 6: OL Tyrus Thompson
  • Round 6: DL B.J. Dubose
  • Round 7: OL Austin Shepherd
  • Round 7: LB Edmond Robinson

The signing of Waynes was leaked out earlier today by Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The eleventh player selected in the 2015 draft, Waynes will earn nearly $13MM over the life of his rookie contract, and will have the opportunity to make several extra million in 2019 if Minnesota exercises his fifth-year option. Because he just missed the cutoff to be a top-10 pick, Waynes’ fifth year won’t be as pricey as it otherwise would’ve — those amounts aren’t known yet, but for 2016 options, the difference in salaries between a top-10 cornerback and a corner picked between 11th and 32nd exceeded $3.5MM.

Kendricks was last season’s Butkus Award winner, giving him the crown of best collegiate linebacker in the country. Kendricks’ brother, Mychal, plays for the Eagles and father Marvin Kendricks, played running back at UCLA and enjoyed a stint in the CFL.

With ten UDFAs also in the fold, the Vikings’ roster is now at 90 players, according to the press release.

Draft Pick Signings: Thursday

Over the course of the next few weeks, as the league’s 32 teams lock up their draft picks, we’ll dedicate individual posts to first- and second-round picks reaching agreements with their respective clubs. Already today, for instance, we’ve passed along word of Trae Waynes signing with the Vikings and Nelson Agholor reaching a deal with the Eagles.

However, given the lack of drama involved in rookie contract negotiations under the new CBA, news on players who were selected in the third round or later will be relegated to round-up posts. Here are Thursday’s mid- to late-round picks who signed their deals, with any additional updates added to the top of the page throughout the day:

4:52pm:

  • In addition to confirming the signing of Deon Simon (noted below), the Jets also announced the signings of third-round outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin and fourth-round quarterback Bryce Petty, per a team release.
  • The Vikings are gradually agreeing to terms with nearly their entire draft class over the course of the day. Chris Tomasson (Twitter links) has updates on two more, reporting that fifth-round tight end MyCole Pruitt, fifth-round wideout Stefon Diggs, and seventh-round offensive lineman Austin Shepherd have all reached deals with the club.
  • The Ravens have signed fifth-round guard Robert Myers and sixth-round wide receiver Darren Waller, per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links).
  • The Seahawks have signed fifth-round cornerback Tye Smith, tweets Terry Blount of ESPN.com.

3:50pm:

  • The Vikings have officially added three more draftees to the roster, agreeing to terms with sixth-round defensive lineman B.J. Dubose and seventh-round linebacker Edmond Robinson, according to reports from Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune and Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter links). In addition to those late-rounders, fourth-round offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings has signed his deal, tweets agent Mike McCartney.
  • Sixth-round lineman Kristjan Sokoli has signed his four-year rookie deal with the Seahawks, tweets agent Brett Tessler. A defensive lineman at Buffalo, Sokoli will be moving over to the offensive line in Seattle.
  • Jets seventh-round defensive tackle Deon Simon and Patriots seventh-round defensive end Xzavier Dickson have signed their rookie deals, according to tweets from their respective agencies. Simon will get a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $73K, while Dickson’s bonus will be worth about $53K.

2:43pm:

  • Sixth-round offensive lineman Tyrus Thompson has agreed to terms with the Vikings and will officially sign when he arrives at the team’s facility, tweets Darren Wolfson of KSTP. Thompson is the second Vikes draftee to reach a deal with the club.
  • Another Packers draftee has agreed to terms with the team, per Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Post-Gazette, who tweets that the club has struck a deal with sixth-rounder fullback Aaron Ripkowski. Ripkowski was the first of three players selected by the Packers in the sixth round, and is also the first one to reach an agreement with the team.
  • The Browns have signed sixth-round tight end Randall Telfer, tweets Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Telfer will receive a signing bonus of just under $118K.

1:48pm:

  • The Packers have agreed to terms on four-year rookie contracts with fifth-round quarterback Brett Hundley and fourth-round linebacker Jake Ryan, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links). Green Bay is expected to lock up most or all of the rest of its late-round picks by the end of the day, writes Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.
  • The Ravens have agreed to contract terms with fourth-round defensive back Tray Walker, reports Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net (Twitter link). The final player selected in the fourth round, as a supplemental pick, Walker will count for about $521K against the cap in 2015.
  • Seventh-round center Austin Reiter has agreed to terms on his rookie contract with Washington, tweets John Keim of ESPN.com. Reiter will receive a signing bonus worth just under $75K.