This Date In Transactions History

This Date In Transactions History: Broncos Sign Brandon Lloyd

While Josh McDaniels‘ stint in Denver is not remembered fondly, one of the fliers the coach/de facto GM took during his tumultuous tenure turned out to pay big dividends. Ten years ago today, the Broncos signed wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. This led to one of the more randomly great receiving seasons in modern NFL history.

After stays as a starter with the 49ers, Redskins and Bears between 2003-08, Lloyd signed a one-year pact with the Broncos on June 15, 2009. The deal paid him less than $700K. However, the Broncos used the ’09 season as an evaluation period for the former fourth-rounder. Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Stokley resided on the ’09 Broncos, who deactivated Lloyd for 14 games. But their 2010 team relied on him heavily.

McDaniels kept Lloyd in Denver via multiyear deal worth more than $2MM in 2010. Although the Broncos stumbled to one of the worst seasons in franchise history, a 4-12 campaign that included McDaniels’ midseason firing, Lloyd blew up for one of the organization’s greatest receiving showings. After an eight-catch 2009, Lloyd produced 77 receptions, 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns. That yardage total not only led the NFL by a fairly healthy margin, it remains the third-highest single-season figure in Broncos history — trailing only Demaryius Thomas (2014) and Rod Smith (2001). Thomas and Eric Decker took a backseat to Lloyd as rookies.

The then-29-year-old wideout’s showing with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow at that offense’s controls — after the Broncos had parted ways with Marshall and Stokley — earned Pro Bowl acclaim. But less than a year later, the Broncos traded Lloyd to the Rams. A contract dispute, and the team’s Tebow-based shift to one of the more run-centric offenses in recent NFL annals a year later, led to Lloyd’s midseason departure.

Both sides benefited from the exit. Thomas and Decker helped attract Peyton Manning to Denver in 2012, and Lloyd signed a three-year, $12MM deal with the Patriots (who had recently rehired McDaniels) that year. Lloyd, who recorded one 1,000-yard receiving season in 11 NFL campaigns, was the Patriots’ second-leading receiver in 2012 but was released the following offseason.

The conditional pick the Broncos received from the Rams turned into a 2012 fifth-rounder, which became Malik Jackson. The defensive lineman started in both Super Bowl XLVIII and Super Bowl 50 and remains a well-regarded interior presence eight years into his career.

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This Date In Transactions History: Broncos Release Willis McGahee

In the summer of 2011, the Ravens released Willis McGahee in an effort to save cap space. Days later, the Broncos scooped him up to provide to starter Knowshon Moreno. It proved to be a wise decision, as Moreno went down with an injury in the very first game of the season. 

From there, McGahee took off. He topped 100 rushing yards in the team’s Week 2 win against the Bengals, torched the Packers for 103 yards off of just 15 carries in Week 4, and nearly set a new career high with 163 rushing yards against the Raiders in November. McGahee finished out the year with 1,199 rushing yards with an average of 4.8 yards per tote.

With that, the Broncos seemingly had their new No. 1 running back in 2012, the year of Peyton Manning‘s arrival. Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan for McGahee. After a solid first half to the season, a helmet-to-knee hit from Quentin Jammer in November resulted in a torn MCL and an early end to his campaign.

From there, Moreno regained his spot as the team’s top RB and, on this date in 2013, McGahee was released by the Broncos. Sadly, McGahee was unable to return to his old form after the release. McGahee hooked on with the Browns after they traded Trent Richardson to the Colts, but he averaged just 2.7 yards per carry and ran for 377 yards in his 12 games, both career lows. After that, it was curtains for the former first-round pick and University of Miami star.

McGahee had an up-and-down career in the NFL, but he left the game with two Pro Bowl selections and four seasons with upwards of 1,100 rushing yards.

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This Date In Transactions History: Michael Vick

On this date in 2009, the Falcons moved on from the biggest star in the history of their franchise. After unsuccessful attempts to trade Michael Vick, the Falcons cut finally ties with the quarterback. 

With the ability to run as well as he could throw, Vick was one of the brightest young stars in the NFL. In six seasons, he earned three Pro Bowl nominations and led the Falcons to the NFC championship game twice. The first go-round in 2002 snapped a four-year playoff drought in Atlanta.

The trajectory of Vick’s career and the entire Falcons franchise changed in 2007 when Vick was indicted for his role in the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting ring. The Falcons pretty much made up their minds on Vick after the quarterback was sentenced to nearly two years in prison, but there were paperwork and cap issues to sort out. The Falcons successfully recovered ~$20MM of Vick’s $37MM signing bonus in ’07, but it wasn’t until the summer of ’09 that they formally terminated his nine-year deal which had the potential to be worth as much as $130MM.

The Falcons were able to move on from the Vick era after selecting Matt Ryan with the third overall pick in the 2008 draft. Vick, meanwhile, managed a second act in the NFL after landing with the Eagles. He was signed to be Donovan McNabb‘s backup in 2009, but he wound up as the team’s starting QB in 2010 after McNabb was traded and Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion. Vick went on to take the Eagles to the playoffs and eventually sign a six-year, $100MM extension with Philly.

Vick’s subsequent stints with the Jets and Steelers were less remarkable and he was unable to find an NFL home in 2016. In the summer of 2017 – on the eight-year anniversary of his release from Atlanta – Vick retired after signing a ceremonial contract with the Falcons.

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This Date In Transactions History: Dolphins Sign Chad Johnson

In the summer of 2012, the Dolphins were less-than-enamored with their options at wide receiver. The Dolphins had just recently traded Brandon Marshall – fresh off of his fifth consecutive 1,000-yard season – to the Bears for a pair of third-round picks. Then, in the draft, they did not select a wide receiver until the sixth round.

‘‘You would like to have some players make it easy and distinguish themselves, maybe make the picture a little bit clearer,’’ head coach Joe Philbin said (via The Boston Globe). ‘‘We have to catch the ball more consistently at every position on offense, because it is not quite where it needs to be.’’

After missing out on the first and second wave of free agent wide receivers, the Dolphins placed a call to Drew Rosenhaus to inquire on Chad Ochocinco (née Chad Johnson). On June 11, 2012, the Dolphins inked the eccentric veteran to a one-year deal.

Ochocinco’s career credentials were as impressive as his touchdown celebrations were inventive. To that point, he had 766 catches for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns, six Pro Bowl nods, and two First-Team All-Pro selections.

However, the receiver’s best days were spent with the Bengals and he looked like a shell of his former self with the Patriots in the 2011 season. In his lone campaign with New England, Johnson had just 15 catches for 276 yards and one touchdown and was targeted just 32 times in total. Johnson clearly didn’t mesh with the Patriots’ offense and he didn’t impress in his two intra-divisional games against the Dolphins either. Against Miami, he had just one catch in each of those two games.

Ochocinco – who changed his name back to Johnson shortly after signing with Miami – didn’t mesh with Philbin and the rest of the staff. The melding of personalities turned out to be the least of his issues. In August, Johnson was arrested on domestic battery charges. Johnson proclaimed his innocence, but the Dolphins released him the very next day. Thanks to “Hard Knocks,” we have video of Philbin’s final conversation with Johnson.

Johnson’s deal with the Dolphins up being his final NFL contract. Johnson went on to play for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in 2014 and was suspended for the 2015 season when he skipped mandatory practices. He re-emerged in 2017 to play in a single game for the Monterrey Fundidores of the Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional de México, where he scored on a 41-yard touchdown reception in the Fundidores’ winning effort.

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This Date In Transactions History: Issac Bruce

On this date in 2010, the 49ers shipped Issac Bruce to the Rams. However, this wasn’t an ordinary trade. The deal was facilitated in order to allow Bruce, 37 at the time, to retire with his original franchise. 

Bruce started his career with the Rams in 1994, the team’s final season in Los Angeles. The second-round pick played sparingly as a rookie, but he broke out as an NFL sophomore in St. Louis with 119 catches, 1,781 yards, and 13 touchdowns, all of which went down as his career bests. In his 14 illustrious years with the Rams, Bruce amassed four Pro Bowl trips and eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in eight different seasons.

Sixteen years was enough for me,” Bruce said at his farewell press conference. “I think a lot was done. But that second training camp practice (in two-a-days) may have played a part in it. I was ready to move on and do something else other than playing football.”

After so many productive seasons in the NFL, Bruce had little left to prove. Bruce was the leading wide receiver in the Rams’ “Greatest Show On Turf” Super Bowl-winning season and left the team as its all-time receiving leader with 14,109 yards. His second act with the Niners was not quite as flashy with 835 yards in his first SF season and 264 yards in his 2009 finale.

The two years I was away, I kept tabs on this organization,” Bruce said. “I played against this organization, I played against its players. The funny thing is I found myself encouraging them when things didn’t look bright for them. I looked down and saw myself in a different colored uniform. It was honestly just to me personally — it just wasn’t right.

So, with the trade, Bruce returned back to the Rams and became the last member of the Rams’ first Los Angeles run to hang ’em up. Later, his No. 80 jersey was retired by the team.

Bruce was denied entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the third time in 2019, but he remains a candidate for induction down the road.

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This Date In Transactions History: Chiefs Release Jeremy Maclin

On this date in 2017, the Chiefs shocked the football world with their release of Jeremy Maclin. Despite a down 2016, Maclin still profiled as one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL and was slated to enter the year as the Chiefs No. 1 wideout. 

At the time of his release, Maclin was still only 29 and was not far removed from his 1,000-yard+ 2015 campaign. There was some logic in the move – cutting Maclin loose saved the Chiefs $10MM in cap space with just $2.4MM left in dead money, but the veteran surely would have preferred to be released in March, when there was more available money around the NFL.

Maclin never got the opportunity to justify his hefty five-year, $55MM deal in Kansas City, and he clearly wasn’t the same player when he moved on to the Ravens in 2017. Maclin finished out with just 40 catches for 440 yards for an average of eleven yards per grab – all career lows.

With Maclin out of the picture, the Chiefs were able to put a larger focus on rising sophomore Tyreek Hill. Hill was something of a gadget player as a rookie, but he truly broke out in 2017 with a 75/1,183/7 line.

Today, Hill’s football future is in limbo, but, from a football perspective, the decision to move on from Maclin proved to be a wise one. The Chiefs have boasted one of the league’s most potent aerial attacks for the last two seasons thanks in large part to Hill and a younger group of targets. Meanwhile, Maclin spent 2018 out of football before announcing his retirement earlier this year.

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This Date In Transactions History: Panthers Extend Cam Newton

During what became the best year in Panthers franchise history, the team took care of its centerpiece player. On June 2, 2015, the Panthers and Cam Newton reached an agreement on a five-year extension.

This deal preceded Newton’s monster 2015 season, a year that saw him pilot the Panthers to a 15-1 record and Super Bowl 50. The extension turned out to be incredibly team-friendly — especially as the quarterback market exploded in the years that followed. Newton signed a five-year, $103.8MM contract that came with $41MM fully guaranteed.

At that point, Aaron Rodgers‘ five-year, $110MM pact — agreed to in 2013 — remained the standard. And the market did not move much for the next two years. Both Andrew Luck and Derek Carr took it higher, with the latter’s extension spiking it to the $25MM-per-year mark. Now, having Newton on a $20.8MM-AAV deal is a staggering bargain for the Panthers — regardless of the 30-year-old quarterback’s situation — and represents a mark in the win column of embattled GM Dave Gettleman. The since-fired Carolina GM did not draft Newton but oversaw the extension process.

Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, Rodgers and Russell Wilson led to the passer market ballooning to its current place, with Wilson’s $35MM-AAV accord pacing the NFL. In between Carr’s deal in June 2017 and Wilson’s April 2019 re-up, the landscape has changed significantly. Newton is now the NFL’s 16th-highest-paid passer. His full-guarantee number ranks 11th. Both Ryan and Cousins more than doubled it in their most recent deals.

Newton has not come close to replicating his 2015 MVP performance, which featured 35 touchdown passes (11 more than any other season), 636 rushing yards and 10 TDs, and a 66.0 QBR. The former No. 1 overall pick regressed in 2016 and ’17, failing to top 22 touchdown passes or the No. 21 spot in QBR in either slate. The Auburn phenom was faring well in Norv Turner‘s offense last season, but another shoulder injury halted his progress and has forced a second lengthy rehab process in three years.

Two years remain, with cap numbers of $23.2MM and $21.1MM, on Newton’s contract. He is not in a strong bargaining position right now, reinjuring his shoulder and having just resumed throwing regulation-sized footballs. But if Newton returns to the form he showed to start last season, extension talks figure to transpire in 2020. The Panthers used a third-round pick on Will Grier but remain committed to Newton as their starter.

That said, this will be a key season for the three-time Pro Bowler — particularly from a health standpoint. If 2019 does not go well, the Panthers could get out of Newton’s deal with merely a $2MM dead-money charge. Although, if the team wanted to change course after nine years of Newton, this contract (and the passer’s talent) would not make for difficult trade talks. But we’re obviously a ways away from that potential reality. The most successful quarterback in Panthers history will have a chance to rebuild his value soon.

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This Date In Transactions History: Giants Release Ryan Clark

On this date in 2004, the Giants released former undrafted free agent Ryan Clark. The move didn’t make waves at the time, but it proved to be a missed opportunity for the G-Men.

After going undrafted out of LSU in 2002, Clark spent two forgettable seasons with the Giants. The defensive back was relatively productive during his sophomore campaign (21 tackles, one sack, two passes defended in 16 games (four starts)), but he seemingly didn’t do enough to earn a longer look from the organization. On May 27th, 2004, the Giants let go of the young safety.

This ended up being a blessing in disguise for the Steelers, but it’d take several years to translate. After all, Clark initially caught on with the Redskins, who he’d play with for two seasons. Thanks to injuries to Matt Bowen and Andre Lott, Clark got an opportunity to start, and he ended up starting 24 games between 2004 and 2005. However, in a widely-panned moved, Washington ended up moving on from Clark after inking Adam Archuleta to a lucrative deal.

Clark then landed in Pittsburgh, where he’d spend the next eight years of his career. The safety started all but two of his games while he was with the Steelers, and he compiled at least 80 tackles for six straight seasons. Clark started all three postseason games for the Steelers en route to their Super Bowl XLIII victory, and he also helped guide the team to a Super Bowl loss during the 2010 campaign. He even made a Pro Bowl in 2011 after finishing with 100 tackles, one sack, five passed defended, and one interception.

By the time Clark ended up returning to Washington in 2014, he had earned a spot on a couple of the Steelers all-time top-1o lists, including tackles (10th – 448) and passes defended (8th – 44). Still, if the Giants had decided to give the safety a longer look, who knows if Clark would have ever found his way to Pittsburgh.

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This Date In Transactions History: Will Allen

In 2009, Will Allen was coming off three productive seasons with the Dolphins, and he was quickly establishing himself as one of the most reliable cornerbacks in the NFL. On May 26th, the cornerback signed a two-year, $16.2MM extension ($10MM guaranteed) with Miami… and he proceeded to play zero games under his new deal.

With one year still remaining on his contract, the deal was set to kick in during the 2010 campaign and would last through 2011. Allen looked like he was worth the money during the first chunk of the 2009 season, compiling 21 tackles, two interceptions, and six passes defended. It quickly went down hill for the defensive back, however, as he tore his ACL in a Week 6 matchup with the Saints, ending his season. That offseason, Allen was arrested and charged with driving under the influence after nearly blowing through a police roadblock.

Then, one week before the 2010 season (the season when his new contract was set to kick in), Allen was placed on the IR with a knee issue. To stick around Miami for the 2011 campaign, the defensive back had to rip up his lucrative deal and settle for a new, one-year contract that paid significantly less than the $5.5MM he was set to make. However, the veteran was ultimately released from this new deal prior to the start of the regular season.

Allen ended up catching on with Miami again in mid-September, and he ultimately compiled 43 tackles and three passes defended in 15 games. However, the team technically ended up getting zero production out of their initial $10MM investment.

This Date In Transactions History: Broncos Sign Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice is best remembered for his remarkable 16-year career with the Niners, in which he earned a dozen Pro Bowl nods and ten First-Team All-Pro selections. After that, Rice had some less remarkable – but still productive – seasons with the Raiders. His final NFL games were spent in a Seahawks uniform, but that wasn’t the original plan. On this date in 2005, Rice signed a one-year contract with the Broncos. 

For so many years there was so much pressure on me,” Rice told Denver beat reporters on a conference call after signing his deal (via The Associated Press). “I had to set a certain standard and I still carry on that standard. But I had a lot of weight on my shoulders. I had blinders on. I couldn’t hear the crowd. I couldn’t hear them chanting my name and I couldn’t see little kids in the stands. I was so focused on what I had to do. The last couple of years, though, he has been more of a role player. The ball was not coming my way every down and I’m really enjoying the game and having fun.”

Rice was 42 years old at the time, meaning that his plans to continue playing were ambitious, even by Jon Gruden‘s standards today. In 2004, the legendary receiver totaled just 30 catches for 429 yards and three touchdowns. Even though he still averaged an impressive 14.3 yards per reception, he was no longer the player that he once was, and Denver head coach Mike Shanahan did not guarantee his place on the roster.

I told Jerry that I don’t know if he’s lost a step or two steps, but you’re going to come here for one reason and that’s to compete with the other guys,” Shanahan said. “And if you’re one of our top five guys at the end of camp, then you’re going to be on our football team. If you’re not, I said I’d have one of the toughest jobs in the world.”

As the season drew near, Rice realized that he would be no higher than fourth or fifth on the Broncos’ depth chart. After serving as a role player in ’04, Rice decided in September that he would rather retire than be a role player in Denver.

The receiver left the game with remarkable league-record totals of 1,549 catches for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns – numbers that are in no danger of being eclipsed anytime soon, unless Larry Fitzgerald changes course and decides to play into his 40s.

So, Rice’s run with the Broncos never came to pass, but if you happen to have his replica orange-and-blue jersey hanging in your closet, you can probably fetch a nice price for it on eBay.

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