T.J. Carrie

West Rumors: Taylor, Carrie, Broncos, Hawks

The trade that will send Jamar Taylor to his third NFL team will come with an adjusted contract. Taylor will make less for the Cardinals this year than he was supposed with the Browns, with Kent Somers of AZCentral.com reporting (on Twitter) the veteran cornerback will earn $3.5MM in base salary — down from $4.25MM. The additional $750K will be pushed onto the Cards’ 2019 balance sheet. The Cardinals and Browns have been discussing a Taylor deal since the draft, Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com tweets, adding that the Bashaud Breeland avenue is likely closed after this trade. Taylor is under contract for two more seasons. Finding a capable Patrick Peterson counterpart has been a problem in Arizona for a while, and Taylor will have a decent chance to earn that No. 2 job. Now-well-traveled Bene Benwikere, former Jets corner Marcus Williams and one-time third-round pick Brandon Williams represent the top competition.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions, keeping with the subject of cornerbacks who have worn Browns colors recently.

  • Taylor and T.J. Carrie were Browns teammates for a little more than two months, and Cleveland has now traded both of its 2017 starting corners as John Dorsey enters his first full season as Browns GM. Carrie will factor in prominently in the Browns’ 2018 secondary, but Jon Gruden would have preferred the Raiders retain Carrie, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. It’s unclear how much the Raiders were willing to offer their 2017 slot corner, but Gruden and some members of his new staff did meet with Carrie just prior to free agency. And the Bay Area native wanted to stay. However, Bair mentions money guided him to northeast Ohio. It’s unlikely the Raiders’ offer was especially close to the Browns’ four-year, $31MM proposal.
  • It appears the Broncos are going to try Menelik Watson at guard. After the former Raiders tackle struggled mightily before his latest injury, allowing a career-worst 7.5 sacks despite playing in just seven Broncos games last season, the team’s putting him in competition with as-of-now starter Connor McGovern for its right guard job, Mike Klis of 9News notes. A sixth-year player, Watson is a career tackle. Denver, which has entered the past five seasons with five different right tackle starters, traded for Jared Veldheer to replace Watson on the edge. McGovern himself is a notable inclusion into the lineup, since Max Garcia has started at guard for two seasons. McGovern worked his way into Denver’s starting mix after being an injury replacement for Ronald Leary late last season.
  • After the Seahawks lost pro personnel director Dan Morgan to the Bills, they will replace him with Nolan Teasley. A former running back at Division II Central Washington, Teasley began his career as a scouting intern in 2013 but rose to the position of assistant pro personnel director in 2017.
  • By giving Patrick Mahomes a top-flight arsenal to work with as he begins his run as the Chiefs‘ starting quarterback, Andy Reid is taking a better approach to developing his most recent prized passing prospect compared to his work with Donovan McNabb, Geoff Mosher of The Score writes. McNabb was not given many notable pass-catchers early in his career, but Mahomes has plenty. With the $16MM-AAV Sammy Watkins deal representing a notable Chiefs about-face regarding their No. 2 wideout position, the franchise now has a quartet of weapons — Watkins, Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill — that rivals any it’s ever assembled. While the Chiefs’ defense may have some work to do after the Marcus Peters trade, Mahomes has far more to work with offensively than Alex Smith did when he arrived in Kansas City five years ago.

The Top 25 Remaining NFL Free Agents

Many of this year’s top free agents came off of the board during the legal tampering period, including Kirk Cousins, Trumaine Johnson, Sammy Watkins, and Allen Robinson. Still plenty of the names from our list of the Top 50 Free Agents remain, including some new additions. Here’s a rundown of the players to keep an eye on as free agency officially begins, ranked roughly by their expected contract value:

1. Ndamukong Suh, DT (Dolphins): The Dolphins bailed on Suh’s mega contract midway through, freeing him up to sign another high-priced contract. He won’t get anything close to a six-year, $114MM deal this time around, but he should settle in at an AAV that keeps him among the best compensated players at his position. Last year, Pro Football Focus ranked Suh fifth among 122 interior defenders. 

2. Tyrann Mathieu, S (Cardinals): The Cardinals worked feverishly to hammer out a new contract with the Honey Badger, but the two sides could not come to terms on a deal to lessen his 2018 cap hit. He has been released, allowing him to hit free agency as the best safety available. The Jets are not believed to be interested, despite his connection with head coach Todd Bowles. The other tenant of the Meadowlands, however, could have interest thanks to the presence of former Arizona DC James Bettcher.

3. Sheldon Richardson, DT (Seahawks): Richardson may have lost some luster following the trade that sent him from the Jets to the Seahawks, but he among the best defensive tackles currently available. With plenty of cap space remaining, Richardson should find a lucrative deal, though it probably won’t come from Seattle. Our own Dallas Robinson estimates that Richardson will fetch about $9MM/year.

4. Dontari Poe, DT (Falcons): Poe missed out on a big payday last year when teams shied away from him due to lingering back issues. After turning in his second consecutive 16-game season, things could be different this time. For the record – Poe has missed only two regular season games over the course of his career, so he boasts a better attendance record than a lot of other veterans on this list. He’s unlikely to circle back to Atlanta.

5. Josh Sitton, G (Bears): With Andrew Norwell off of the board, Sitton stands as the best guard on the market. He’s missed six games over the last two years, but he has four Pro Bowl appearances to his credit. He’s set to meet with the Dolphins.

6. A.J. McCarron, QB (Bengals): It’s difficult to peg McCarron’s value heading into free agency. Outside of some quality starts in 2015, there isn’t much film out there on McCarron, despite that fact that he has spent four years in the NFL. Hue Jackson was itching to reunite with McCarron, but the Browns no longer seem a likely destination for him after the acquisition of Tyrod Taylor. It’s also hard to see him landing with the QB-needy Jets after they re-signed Josh McCown and added Teddy Bridgewater. McCarron will find a home, but it may not be as a starter. [UPDATE: McCarron has signed with the Bills]

7. E.J. Gaines, CB (Bills): Injuries in the fall limited Gaines to just 11 games last season, but he proved to be a quality return for the Bills in the Watkins trade, in addition to the second-round pick that came with him. Gaines graded out as the No. 13 cornerback in the league last year, per PFF, and he just turned 26 in February. Gaines missed all of ’15 due to injury and didn’t look all that sharp in ’16, but timing is everything in free agency. You can expect multiple teams to call on him and the Texans could still have interest, even after inking Aaron Colvin.

8. Eric Reid, S (49ers): Reid is just 26 and is undoubtedly a starting quality safety. He has both youth and versatility on his side, but it’s possible that his anthem protest participation could hurt him when it comes to some suitors. Injuries over the last two seasons will hurt his market as well.

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Browns To Sign CB T.J. Carrie

The Browns have reached agreement with free agent cornerback T.J. Carrie, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com (Twitter link).

The former Raiders corner signed for four years and $31MM, with $10MM fully guaranteed at signing, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets.

Before landing with Cleveland, Carrie also drew interest from the Broncos, but Denver signed fellow corner Tramaine Brock instead. Carrie ranked as PFR’s seventh-best available cornerback heading into the free agent period.

Cleveland needed all the secondary help it could find after ranking 27th in pass defense DVOA in 2017. So far, they’ve inked Carrie and Terrance Mitchell to go along with Jason McCourtyJamar Taylor, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun, among others. Additionally, the Browns have interest in safety Morgan Burnett as they further remake their defensive backfield.

Carrie will almost surely play the slot in Cleveland, as the 27-year-old handled nickel duties for Oakland last season. In 15 starts, Carrie managed 70 tackles and graded as the NFL’s No. 21 CB, per Pro Football Focus. Football Outsiders’ metrics weren’t quite as fond of Carrie, as he ranked 68 out of 81 qualifiers in success rate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Eyeing CB T.J. Carrie

The Broncos have interest in cornerback T.J. Carrie, according to CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora (on Twitter). Carrie entered free agency as one of PFR’s ten best cornerbacks available and one of the 50 best free agents overall.

Carrie has said that he doesn’t want to leave the Raiders, but it’s not clear whether new head coach Jon Gruden has him in their plans. Carrie did meet with the Raiders’ new staff, however. Ultimately, his market value could drive him away from Oakland and into the arms of a divisional rival.

The Broncos are in search of a No. 3 cornerback after agreeing to trade Aqib Talib to the Rams. Talib, Chris Harris and Bradley Roby formed probably the league’s best corner trio over the past four years, and Harris and Roby remain. But despite drafting Brendan Langley in last year’s third round, the franchise was said to be searching the veteran market for a cheaper option than Talib.

Carrie qualifies, but after a strong contract year where he proved to be a clear slot upgrade on D.J. Hayden, it’s unclear how cheap he will come. Both Harris and Roby are going to earn north of $8MM in 2018, so any Carrie deal would place the Broncos toward the top of the league in cornerback spending.

A perennial Pro Bowler, Harris has functioned as probably the game’s best slot cornerback over the past several years. But he recently expressed a desire to play more on the outside. His flexibility as a boundary corner in base sets and slot cover man in Denver’s nickel would allow the team to target a slot player or outside defender in free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents For 2018 1.0

There will be tons of free agents available in March, but only a some of them can be real difference makers for your favorite team. To help separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve assembled our early list of the Top 50 NFL Free Agents for 2018.

Our early version of the NFL’s top 50 free agents may include players who will be re-signed between now and March 14. When we update this list next week, a few of the big names will be spoken for while new high-profile names will join the fray as veterans become cap casualties.

Recently, we broke down the top free agents by position on both offense and defense, but our rankings below may not have each player listed in the same order. Those position lists took the short-term value of a player into account more heavily, meaning many players in their 30s received prominent placement. Our overall top 50 list favors longer-term value, and is more about forecasting which players will be in highest demand when it comes to years and dollars.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2018:

1. Kirk Cousins, QB (Redskins): At long last, Kirk Cousins is headed towards unrestricted free agency. You may or may not regard Cousins as a star, but he is the best quarterback in recent history to reach the open market and QB-needy teams will be rolling out the red carpet for him. The Jets, Vikings, Broncos, and Cardinals have been named as the top suitors for his services, but the NFL is full of surprises this time of year and we would not be surprised to see other teams get involved. The cash-flush Browns are reportedly keen on signing a lower-cost vet and drafting a QB early, but who’s to say they won’t change course and get in on the Cousins sweepstakes? The Bills, Giants, Dolphins, Bucs, and Colts could also consider kicking the tires here, but there are obstacles in that bunch ranging from established starters already in place (Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, and Andrew Luck) to financial constraints. No matter where he goes, it’s almost certain that Cousins will become the league’s highest-paid player of all-time. That is, until another top-tier QB signs a contract extension soon after.

2. Drew Brees (Saints): There are multiple possibilities for Cousins but it’s hard to see a scenario in which Brees actually leaves the Saints. Brees has already said that he does not plan on testing free agency, so he’ll likely put pen to paper before things begin on March 14. As far as we can tell, the only way Brees will think about leaving is if he is lowballed to an extreme degree by the Saints, but that seems improbable based on his history with the team

3. Case Keenum (Vikings): One year ago, no one ever would have expected Keenum to be one of 2018’s most sought-after free agents. The Vikings signed the former Rams signal caller to a one-year, $2MM deal in March with the idea that he would back up Sam Bradford and, eventually slide down to third on the depth chart when/if Teddy Bridgewater returned to full health. When Bradford went down in September, Keenum exceeded all expectations and put together the best season of his career. The 30-year-old graded out as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-ranked QB in 2017, putting him above the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford, and Tyrod Taylor. With Keenum at the helm, the Vikings earned a first-round bye and beat the Saints in a playoff thriller before succumbing to the Eagles in the NFC championship game. Of course, after four seasons of mediocrity, teams are wondering whether this was an aberration or a real sign of things to come. Teams know that Keenum is not a lock, but he’s also the best Plan B for any team that loses out on Cousins or doesn’t have the means to sign him.

4. Andrew Norwell, G (Panthers): There was a time when tackles were the only offensive linemen to really cash in on the open market. That’s no longer the case, as evidenced by the contracts of Kevin Zeitler (five years, $60MM) and Kelechi Osemele (five years, $58.5MM). Osemele inked his free agent deal with the Raiders in 2016 and Zeitler signed his in the 2017 offseason. Given the cap increase and the natural progression of the market, Norwell figures to reset the market for interior linemen. Keenum figures to gross no less than $20MM/year on his next contract, so he’s slotted behind him, but an average annual value of $13-14MM is not out of the question for the former undrafted free agent.

5. Nate Solder, OT (Patriots): Solder isn’t coming off of his best season and he might be the least sexy name in the top ten. Still, there’s a dearth of tackles league-wide and Solder has been among the league’s best at his position for quite some time. The Patriots are bracing for Solder to leave as they fear he’ll garner offers of $12MM/year. No other tackle in this year’s free agent crop is even close to him in terms of ability, so we’re also buying into the hype. Injuries contributed to Solder’s up-and-down season, particularly early on, so teams will take that into account when evaluating him.

6. Allen Robinson, WR (Jaguars): The Jaguars opted against using the franchise tag on Robinson, which is understandable since they have limited cap space. Robinson missed almost all of 2017 with an ACL tear, but his 2015 season (and even his so-so 2016 campaign) gives teams reason to believe that he can be a quality WR1. Robinson is one of only two such players on the unrestricted market, so expect him to get paid. Robinson probably couldn’t do worse than Kenny Britt‘s four-year, $32MM deal with the Browns from last season (and he should do a whole lot better), but if he is underwhelmed by the multi-year offers he receives, he could always go the Alshon Jeffery route. Jeffery inked a one-year, $9.5MM prove-it deal with the Eagles and that turned out to be a smashing success for both parties. Jeffery was rewarded with a four-year, $52MM extension in December, so Robinson’s camp will surely be open to a pillow contract if necessary. 

7. Sammy Watkins, WR (Rams): Some may view Robinson and Watkins as 1A and 1B in this year’s wide receiver class, particularly since Robinson missed all of 2017 and Watkins, despite his own injury history, played in all but one of the Rams’ games. Unfortunately, Watkins did not have the platform year he was hoping for as he caught just 39 passes for 593 yards. If we strike Robinson’s lost year and Watkins’ down year from the record, the breakdown favors the Jags receiver – Robinson averaged 77 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns per 16 games in that set versus Watkins’ 66 grabs for 1,063 yards and seven scores. These two should come pretty close in average annual value, but we give the edge to Robinson.

8. Trumaine Johnson, CB (Rams): Players often bemoan the franchise tag, but Johnson can’t really complain after receiving two consecutive tags from the Rams and earning more than $30MM between 2016 and 2017. The Rams, rightfully, did not consider a third consecutive tag for Johnson at a cost of ~$20MM and they already have his replacement in Marcus Peters. That’s one suitor down, but plenty of other teams will be eager to speak with Johnson, who profiles as the best cornerback in a deep class.

9. Sheldon Richardson, DT (Seahawks): Richardson gave the Jets lots of headaches, but he also gave them high-end production. He didn’t quite match that production in Seattle, but Richardson is positioned for a massive payday anyway since impactful defensive linemen are at a premium. Our own Dallas Robinson estimates that Richardson will garner about $9MM/year, but I would say that is his floor. The top-end of free agency rarely yields team-friendly deals, so Richardson could easily creep into eight figures in AAV, particularly since he does not turn 28 until November.

10. Dontari Poe, DT (Falcons): Poe thought he was in for a monster contract last offseason, but concerns about his lingering back issues forced him to take a one-year, $8MM deal with Atlanta. Teams may still worry about his back being a ticking time bomb, but perhaps they’ll view him in a different light now that he has played back-to-back 16 game seasons and has only missed two regular season contests over the course of his career.

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Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

Extra Points: Carrie, Foster, Johnson, Tags

Two of the top wide receivers expected to be available on this year’s UFA market may not be locks to leave their previous teams. The Jaguars and Rams face decisions on Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins, respectively, and Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com expects both wideouts to be franchise-tagged by the March deadline. The Jags have both Robinson and Marqise Lee as free agent WRs, and Robinson has posted the best season of any wideout in this UFA class. But the 24-year-old pass-catcher’s 2015 campaign (80 receptions, 1,400 yards, 14 touchdown catches) thus far serves as the outlier, and Robinson didn’t have a chance to rebound from a lesser 2016 slate (73/883/6) — albeit with a worse Blake Bortles showing that year — on it after going down in Week 1.

Watkins being tagged would be notable since the Rams also have Lamarcus Joyner as a tag candidate. Joyner may be the best safety on the market, if he reaches free agency. The Rams also have an Aaron Donald contract to prepare for, so it’s a complicated offseason for the reigning NFC West champs. The receiver tag is expected to come in at $16.2MM, and Watkins’ L.A. work thus far would not justify that price. That could also complicate matters for the Jags, who have Bortles’ fifth-year number of $19MM set to vest come March. A Robinson tag would add a considerable figure to the Jacksonville payroll.

As teams continue to prepare for the Combine and free agency, here’s the latest from around the league.

  • Derrick Johnson confirmed on Instagram he will not be back with the Chiefs next season. This news emerged earlier this week and will conclude a 13-season run for Johnson, who will end his Kansas City career as one of the franchise’s best defenders. However, Johnson wants to play a 14th season. The 35-year-old linebacker may have regressed a bit but could be an interesting fit for a linebacker-needy team on a one-year deal.
  • The 49ers spoke to Reuben Foster in person and by phone this week, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports. The linebacker is being investigated for an alleged domestic violence incident, leading to his second arrest of the offseason, that occurred last weekend.
  • Despite his Raiders contract having expired, T.J. Carrie met with the new Silver and Black coaching staff this week, Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Carrie functioned as a full-time starter with Oakland last season. The Raiders released David Amerson earlier this month and could well move on from Sean Smith free of charge soon. Pro Football Focus’ No. 22 corner in 2017, Carrie is coming off his best season and would be an interesting name to on the market. But the former seventh-round pick told Kawahara he would like to stay with the Raiders. “I’m a hometown kid. I’m a Bay Area kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else than Oakland,” Carrie said. “… I’ve loved and I’ve dreamed of playing for the Raiders for such a long time. And now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish there.”
  • The Lions hired Erik Kunttu to run their video operations department, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes. This hire proves interesting because it adds to an unusual pipeline. Counting Matt Patricia, there are now seven members of the 2018 Lions’ staff who were on the 2001 Syracuse staff, per Meinke. Patricia spent three seasons serving as an offensive graduate assistant at the then-Big East program, and then-Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni will join Patricia in guiding the Detroit defense.

AFC Rumors: Broncos, Fins, Glenn, Raiders

It’s not exactly a secret the Broncos are hoping their 2016 first-round pick takes the quarterback reins by Week 1, but Paxton Lynch has yet to offer much evidence he’s ready to do that. The obvious caveat of the Broncos being yet to begin their preseason slate applies, but Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com notes Trevor Siemian is in control of this job by default. Broncos staffers aren’t sensing a different vibe from this competition compared to last season, Robinson reports, adding current Broncos personnel view Siemian in front of this race due to Lynch’s inconsistency.

While the Broncos would still hold out hope for Lynch to seize this job at some point in the season, he has lost “every single practice” to the less heralded Siemian, Robinson writes. Siemian’s backstory as a seventh-round pick holding off a player of Lynch’s pedigree for a second season would be interesting for a Broncos team expected to again rely on its defense, but as of now the ex-Northwestern part-time quarterback has a legitimate chance to keep the job.

Here’s the latest out of the AFC:

  • Two anonymous agents told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald any possible Dolphins overtures to coax Ryan Tannehill into a pay cut are likely to be met with a rejection on agent Pat Dye’s part. Only $5.25MM in injury guarantees remain on Tannehill’s deal, which runs through 2020. Tannehill’s 2018 salary ($17.5MM) becomes guaranteed on the fifth day of the next league year. And although there may be higher-end quarterbacks available in 2018 compared to the past several years, they would likely cost more per year than Tannehill’s deal requires, Jackson writes.
  • The Raiders return their entire starting secondary from last season, but they are not using Sean Smith as a first-unit player presently. Smith worked as a reserve corner on Sunday while the team shuttled rookie UDFA Breon Borders into the fray. Jack Del Rio confirmed this was a performance-based promotion for Borders, via Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). David Amerson and T.J. Carrie worked as the starting corners, with Borders at nickel, per Scott Bair of CSN Bay Area (via Twitter). The 6-foot-3 Smith has been used as a boundary corner for years, and Carrie patrolled the slot for the Raiders after D.J. Hayden went down last season. This marked the third day Carrie played ahead of Smith, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com notes. Smith’s $9.25MM salary is guaranteed for 2017, while no guaranteed money remains on the 30-year-old defender’s four-year deal after this season. Gareon Conley has yet to factor into this equation.
  • Cordy Glenn returned to Bills practice Sunday after a bout of ongoing foot trouble, and the sixth-year left tackle said he would “hopefully” be ready to go by Week 1, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. Ankle and foot injuries have dogged Glenn since last season. He recently received a second opinion from a specialist in Charlotte.
  • The Chiefs worked out defensive lineman Connor Wujciak on Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Originally a UDFA with the Eagles in 2016, Wujciak missed all of his would-be rookie season with a shoulder injury. The Eagles waived him in February.

2017 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.Donte Moncrief (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 $1.8MM in 2017. 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 2017 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Aaron Lynch, LB; Marcus Martin, OL

Bears: Charles Leno, T; Will Sutton, DT

Bengals: Russell Bodine, C

Bills: Preston Brown, LB; Seantrel Henderson, T

Broncos: Michael Schofield, OL

Browns: Christian Kirksey, LB

Buccaneers: Kevin Pamphile, G

Cardinals: John Brown, WR

Chiefs: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G; Zach Fulton, G; Phillip Gaines, CB

Colts: Donte Moncrief, WR

Cowboys: Anthony Hitchens, LB

Falcons: Devonta Freeman, RB

Giants: Devon Kennard, LB

Jaguars: Aaron Colvin, CB; Brandon Linder, G; Telvin Smith, LB

Lions: Nevin Lawson, CB; Travis Swanson, C

Packers: Corey Linsley, C; Richard Rodgers, TE

Panthers: Tre Boston, S; Trai Turner, G

Raiders: T.J. Carrie, CB; Justin Ellis, DT; Gabe Jackson, G

Rams: Maurice Alexander, S; E.J. Gaines, CB

Redskins: Bashaud Breeland, CB; Spencer Long, G; Morgan Moses, T

Texans: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE; Andre Hal, S

Titans: DaQuan Jones, DL; Avery Williamson, LB

Vikings: Shamar Stephen, DT

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