Stefon Diggs

WR Notes: Diggs, Decker, Doctson, Broncos

The Vikings now have three of their four major offseason extension candidates signed long-term, with Anthony Barr being the only member of the contract-year quartet (Barr/Stefon Diggs/Eric Kendricks/Danielle Hunter) still attached to a rookie contract. Diggs was the latest to sign, and some details of that five-year, $72MM extension have emerged. Of the $40MM in guarantees, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (on Twitter) that only Diggs’ $15MM signing bonus and $1.9MM 2018 base salary are fully guaranteed at signing. The remainder of the wide receiver’s guaranteed money will depend on his roster status.

If Diggs is on the Vikings’ roster by the third day of the 2019 league year, all of his $8.9MM 2019 base becomes guaranteed. The same structure exists for the 2020 and ’21 league years, with Goessling reporting Diggs’ 2020 base of $10.9MM becomes fully guaranteed on Day 3 of that league year and $3.3MM of his $10.9MM 2021 salary will be guaranteed if he’s with the Vikes on Day 3 of that league year.

Here’s the latest from some teams’ pass-catching situations, shifting to more contract talk.

  • Eric Decker‘s one-year Patriots agreement comes in at just shy of $2MM. The former Broncos, Jets and Titans wideout signed for $1.9MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). He has a chance to earn up to $2.5MM, per Rapoport, via incentives tied to his reception count. Decker suited up in Patriots gear for the first time Saturday. Now 31, Decker is entering his ninth season.
  • While Emmanuel Sanders has yet to relinquish his status as the Broncos’ No. 2 wide receiver — a role he inherited from Decker in 2014 — the team looks to have found a No. 3 target at long last. Having failed to find a capable cog for that job since Wes Welker‘s exit, the Broncos appear to be zeroing in on Courtland Sutton as their No. 3 receiver, Lindsay Jones of USA Today writes. The SMU product’s drawn rave reviews throughout Broncos camp, and Jones notes the second-rounder’s all but locked up the WR3 job going into preseason play. Fourth-round pick DaeSean Hamilton, viewed as a superior route-runner than the 6-foot-3 Sutton, is expected to play a role as well. But Sutton will likely start out as Denver’s third option. The rookies’ work will be interesting, given the non-guaranteed contract-year salaries for the Broncos’ longtime starting wideouts in 2019.
  • Josh Doctson has suffered another injury, a shoulder setback, but contrary to a previous assessment, the Redskins target won’t be out too long. NBC Sports Washington’s Brian Mitchell, a longtime Redskins return man, said Doctson also needed to have his heel drained earlier this week. Jay Gruden, though, refuted that. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a heel being drained,” Gruden said, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “So I don’t know where that came from. That is not true, but he’s going to do a little something out here today. We’ll see. I’d be surprised if he went full-go, but he did not have his heel drained.” Doctson has struggled to stay healthy during his NFL career. The 2016 first-rounder missed all of his rookie year because of Achilles trouble and encountered hamstring issues last year.

Vikings, Stefon Diggs Agree To Extension

The Vikings and wide receiver Stefon Diggs have reached agreement on a hefty new deal, according to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune. The five-year extension is worth $72MM, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The deal includes $40MM in guarantees and can be worth up to $81M in total with incentives.

Diggs made his case for a new deal in 2017 as he caught eight touchdown passes, tying him for the team lead with tight end Kyle Rudolph. Meanwhile, his 64 catches and 849 receiving yards were good for second on the team, despite missing two regular season contests. Diggs, for his part, has been vocal about his desire to stay with the Vikings.

I want to be here. I love being here,” Diggs said. “I love being a part of the organization. They took a chance on me early on so I love it here as far as where we’re at. … Hopefully, we can get some things done and we’ll see how it goes.”

The $14MM/year deal may sound exorbitant for a player who has yet to top 1,000 yards, but the wide receiver market has exploded and this is in line with Diggs’ expected haul in free agency. There’s certainly some risk on the team’s part as he has been hampered by injuries throughout his career. Diggs has not missed significant time as a pro, but he has dealt with groin issues in each of the last two seasons. He also said he was “never the same” after suffering a groin injury in Week 4 and his knee and hip have also given him problems.

The Vikings have worked hard in recent months to keep their young core together. Since last July, Minnesota has locked up Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Xavier Rhodes, Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter, and now Diggs. Last, but not least, is linebacker Anthony Barr, and it might not be long before they sign him to a fresh contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Vikings, Dunlap, Jackson

One of the final pieces to the Vikings‘ extensive extension puzzle, Stefon Diggs does not want to leave the Twin Cities anytime soon. Although the emerging wide receiver could be in line for WR1 money on the open market next year, Diggs would prefer his second contract come from the Vikings — as so many of his peers’ have in recent years.

I want to be here. I love being here,” Diggs said, (Twitter link, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). “I love being a part of the organization. They took a chance on me early on so I love it here as far as where we’re at. … Hopefully, we can get some things done and we’ll see how it goes.”

The Vikings have discussed an extension with Diggs’ camp, but nothing appears to be imminent, per Tomasson. Diggs and Anthony Barr represent the final two steps in Minnesota’s years-long effort to fortify a core, one that stands to be in its primes throughout Kirk Cousins‘ contract. If Diggs were to hit free agency, though, he would almost certainly be a coveted commodity. While Odell Beckham Jr. could theoretically be a 2019 free agent, that seems unlikely. Diggs could be the top wideout on a market that as of now would include Devin Funchess, Randall Cobb and Kelvin Benjamin.

Here’s the latest from the North.

  • Carlos Dunlap and the Bengals may be approaching the finish line on what would be a third Cincinnati contract for the veteran defensive end. Drew Rosenhaus spent time in Cincinnati this weekend, and Dunlap said (via Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer), “When you see him out here you know he is doing something. He’s out here for a reason.” Dunlap and the Bengals have made progress on a deal this offseason, but the 29-year-old pass rusher remains tied to his second contract. That deal expires after this season. Dunlap wants to play the rest of his NFL days in Cincinnati. “I would love to get it done. I would love to finish my career here as a Bengal,” he said, via Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com.
  • Lamar Jackson‘s slender frame emerged as a pre-draft topic, but the Ravens rookie not planning a significant weight-gain project as he readies for the NFL. Jackson said (via Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com) he’s at 216 pounds and doesn’t want to be above 220, in order to maintain his elite speed.
  • First-round pick Mike Hughes will work as the Vikings‘ kick returner, while veteran Marcus Sherels will start off as the punt returner, Tomasson tweets. Though there will be competition, this would be the team’s preferred arrangement. Re-signed this offseason, Sherels has been Minnesota’s punt-return man for seven years. Hughes only worked as a return man in one season, last year at Central Florida, but he totaled three return touchdowns in that time.
  • As expected, Mychal Kendricks saw his first Browns action as a weak-side linebacker, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes. Recovering from offseason ankle surgery, the former Eagles ‘backer is participating on a limited basis for now. Ulrich suggests Kendricks may be a super-sub, working at all three Browns linebacker spots while Christian Kirksey, Jamie Collins and Joe Schobert retain their first-string roles.

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.