This Date In Transactions History

This Date In NFL Transactions History: Frank Alexander

On this day in 2015, Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander earned his third and final suspension from the NFL. Now, this shouldn’t be confused for a good thing. Rather, the punishment ultimately spelled the end of the player’s NFL career.

The Panthers used a fourth-round selection (No. 104) on the Oklahoma product during the 2012 draft, and it looked the organization may have found a diamond in the rough. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound lineman looked productive during his rookie campaign, compiling a modest 18 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and three passes defended in 16 games (three starts). While his counting stats took a step back in 2013, Alexander was just as productive on the field. He finished his sophomore season with 15 tackles, one sack, and two passes defended.

While Alexander was still backing up Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson heading into the 2014 season, he was expected to take on a bigger role on the defensive line. However, during the 2014 offseason, he was handed a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He was slapped with another 10-game suspension before the aforementioned suspension ended, and he ended up appearing in a single game during the 2014 season. Presumably no one would have guessed that that’d end up being his final NFL regular season appearance.

Alexander tore his Achilles during the 2015 preseason, and after being waived/injured by the Panthers, he landed on the team’s injured reserve. Then, three years ago today, the defensive end was slapped with a one-year suspension for his third marijuana violation. He was actually one of three Panthers players to be handed a suspension in a two-game span, as defensive end Wes Horton and wide receiver Stephen Hill were punished the day before.

The Panthers didn’t necessarily miss Alexander during that season, as they ended up reaching the Super Bowl. As for Alexander, he was unable to garner much interest from NFL teams, and he ended up catching on with the BC Lions of Canadian Football League. The 28-year-old still hasn’t appeared in a game with his new organization, and it appears that his professional football career has likely come to an end.

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This Date In NFL Transactions History: Dion Jordan Reinstated By NFL

Four years ago today, the NFL reinstated defensive end Dion Jordan from the suspension list. At the time, the Dolphins were expecting the former first-rounder to contribute for the foreseeable future. Little did they know, Jordan would be preparing for his final 10 games in a Dolphins uniform.

The third-overall pick of the 2013 draft had a solid rookie campaign in Miami, finishing the year with 26 tackles, two sacks, and two passes defended. However, prior to his sophomore season, Jordan was slapped with a four-game suspension after violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Several months later, the defensive end was handed another suspension, all leading to him being reinstated four years ago today.

Jordan proceeded to play in the Dolphins final 10 games that year, compiling 20 tackles and a single sack. Unfortunately, things quickly got worse for the Oregon product. Prior to the 2015 season, the NFL found that the defensive end had diluted his test samples. While he didn’t fail a drug test, the diluted sample served as a “third strike,” and Jordan was suspended for the entirety of the 2015 campaign. He was reinstated by the NFL prior to the 2016 season, but he was forced onto the NFI list after recovering from an undisclosed knee surgery. Jordan didn’t play in a single game that season, and he was released by Miami during the 2017 offseason.

It seems like there may be some optimism for Jordan this year. He caught on with the Seahawks in 2017, compiling 18 tackles, four sacks, and one forced fumble in five games. He re-signed this past offseason, but he’s compiled only a pair of tackles through four contests.

When he was reinstated by the NFL in 2014, no one could have envisioned him playing a rotational role elsewhere only four years later. While it certainly hasn’t gone as planned for the 28-year-old, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

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This Date In NFL Transactions History: Bills Trade Marshawn Lynch To Seahawks

On this date in 2010, the Bills and Seahawks pulled off a blockbuster midseason trade. For the price of a 2011 fourth-round pick and a conditional 2012 draft pick, the Bills said farewell to Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch’s tenure in Buffalo altered between jaw-dropping and headache-inducing for the front office. The running back topped 1,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons and earned his first career Pro Bowl nod in 2008. Meanwhile, his off-the-field trouble was cause for concern. In the summer of 2008, Lynch admitted to striking a female pedestrian with his car and leaving the scene. In the following spring, Los Angeles cops found a semiautomatic handgun in his car.

The former first-round pick seemed to be back on track early in the 2010 season, having just wrestled the starting job back from Fred Jackson. Still, the phone lines were open in Buffalo, and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll pounced on the opportunity to add him to the backfield.

We’re going to bring him in to play a lot,” Carroll said (via the Associated Press). “We’ll wait and see when we get him here, but we’re bringing him in here to play a bunch.” The decision to trade for Lynch ended up working out incredibly well for the Seahawks, as Lynch took his game to a new level in Seattle and became the engine of the offense for their Super Bowl winning team. He went to four Pro Bowls with the Seahawks and was twice named an All-Pro

Lynch ended up announcing his retirement after the 2015 season, but after a year away from the game decided to return. The Seahawks promptly traded him to the Raiders, where Lynch currently plays.

 

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This Date In Transactions History: Panthers Acquire Jared Allen

Three years ago today, the Panthers added a much-needed pass rusher to their squad. The team acquired defensive end Jared Allen from the Bears, with Chicago receiving a conditional sixth-round pick in return. While the five-time Pro Bowler had clearly lost a step by the time he made it to North Carolina, he still played a role in helping the Panthers win their conference.

After having spent six seasons with the Vikings, Allen inked a four-year, $32MM deal ($15.5MM) guaranteed with the Bears in 2014. The veteran put up solid stats during his lone full season in Chicago, compiling 56 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and two passes defended. With Vic Fangio hired as defensive coordinator in 2015, Allen was forced to switch from defensive end to linebacker. While he embraced the change, he failed to show the same kind of pass-rushing prowess, compiling only five tackles and zero sacks through the team’s first three games.

Meanwhile, the Panthers found themselves struggling with injuries among their front seven, as Luke Kuechly, Charles Johnson, and Frank Alexander were all hobbled. Having started the season 3-0, the organization decided to add some reinforcement to their defensive line, and they acquired Allen for a conditional pick.

Allen was plenty solid during his tenure with the Panthers, compiling 27 tackles and a pair of sacks in 12 games (12 starts). The veteran sat out the team’s NFC Championship Game victory over the Cardinals, but he returned in time for the Super Bowl. Allen finished that contest with a single tackle, as the Panthers fell to the Broncos, 24-10. Less than two weeks later, Allen announced his retirement, and he subsequently signed a one-day contract with the Vikings.

While Allen certainly isn’t known for his time in North Carolina, the veteran still played an important role in guiding the Panthers to their second Super Bowl appearance.

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This Date In Transactions History: Laurence Maroney Trade

September trades are pretty rare in the NFL, but we got one eight years ago today. On this date in 2010, the Patriots traded running back Laurence Maroney (along with a 2011 sixth-round pick) to the Broncos in exchange for a 2011 fourth-round pick.

When the Patriots selected Maroney in the first round of the 2006 draft, they were hoping to get some longterm stability at the position. The Minnesota product certainly looked the part of a three-down back during his rookie campaign. While splitting time with veteran Corey Dillon, Maroney still managed to compile 745 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 175 carries (he also hauled in 22 catches for 194 yards and one score). He became the starting running back during his sophomore campaign, and he took on an ever bigger role during the playoffs.

However, Maroney only appeared in three games during the 2008 season after suffering a shoulder injury, and he struggled with fumbles following his return in 2009. By the time the 2010 season came around, he was buried on the depth chart behind Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk. With BenJarvus Green-Ellis contributing on special teams, the Patriots decided to shop their former first-rounder.

In came the Broncos, who were dealing with a number of running back injuries. Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter were both hobbled, and their replacement, LenDale White, had already torn his Achilles. The team moved down two rounds in the 2011 draft in order to acquire Maroney, who was set to hit free agency following the season. The then-25-year-old ended up starting three of his four games for Denver, compiling only 74 yards on 36 carries. He was later arrested on weapons charges, and the team chose not to re-sign him following the campaign. Maroney’s stint with the Broncos was his last NFL action.

The Patriots ended up trading their acquired pick to the Seahawks for wideout Deion Branch, and Seattle used that pick to select linebacker K.J. Wright. The Broncos used their acquired pick (which was originally owned by the Saints) to select linebacker Mike Mohamed.

The Broncos were presumably hoping for a bit more when they acquired Maroney. Fortunately for the organization, the offense continued to improve over the next few years. Of course, a certain Hall of Famer probably helped with that.

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This Date In Transactions History: Tony Boselli Retires

On this date in 2003, one of the most underrated offensive linemen in the history of the game called it a career. Tackle Tony Boselli, the first ever draft pick of the Jaguars, retired at the age of 31. 

Soon after being drafted with the No. 2 pick in the 1995 draft, Boselli established himself as one of the best players in Jacksonville. He earned five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 1996-2000 with three First-Team All-Pro selections coming in 97-99. The Jaguars reached the postseason in four of their first five seasons in existence, and Boselli played a huge role in their success.

Unfortunately, injuries started to chip away at Boselli in 2001 and he appeared in only three games that season. In February 2002, the Jaguars made Boselli one of their five exposed players for the Texans’ expansion draft. With the very first pick, Houston took on Boselli’s $6.883MM cap figure, but they did not get the All-Pro they were expecting.

I am retiring because of medical reasons, specifically my left shoulder, which did not continue to improve to the point where I could play,” said Boselli as he announced his retirement.

Boselli’s career was relatively short, but highly impactful. In seven seasons with the Jaguars, Boselli allowed only 15.5 sacks and cemented his legacy as one of the Jaguars’ most important players of all-time.

Boselli signed a one-day deal to retire with the Jaguars in 2006 and became the first inductee into the team’s Hall of Fame. Still, the football Hall of Fame eludes him. In 2018, Boselli was denied entry in his 12th year of eligibility and his second year as a finalist.

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This Date In Transactions History: Chiefs Extend Matt Cassel

In the 30 years prior to their Patrick Mahomes first-round pick, the Chiefs did not entrust their offenses to homegrown investments too often.

Once 1983 first-rounder Todd Blackledge did not pan out, this franchise proceeded to acquire a slew of veteran quarterbacks via trade or free agency and hoped one of those offseason additions could elevate the team to a long-sought-after Super Bowl return. Steve DeBerg, Dave Krieg, Joe Montana, Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac and Rich Gannon all played key roles in piloting Chiefs teams to the playoffs during their successful 1990s run. Alex Smith helped deliver the most consistency since those years, leading Kansas City to four postseasons in five seasons, and Trent Green was at the controls of an explosive offense in K.C.’s run to the 2003 No. 2 seed.

But a key choice in Chiefs history came to fruition on this date nine years ago. In addition to being the key date on the Con Air timeline, July 14 proved to be a pivotal day for Matt Cassel. The Chiefs traded for Cassel in March of 2009 and signed him to a six-year, $63MM contract just prior to training camp that year.

This proved to be a windfall for the former Patriots backup. He received $28MM guaranteed and saw $40.5MM in that deal’s first three years. Cassel took over for Tom Brady after he suffered a season-ending injury against the Chiefs in Week 1 of the 2008 season. Completing a career-high 63.4 percent of his passes, Cassel guided the Patriots to an 11-win season. The Patriots used a $14.65MM franchise tag on Cassel but shipped him to the Chiefs, along with Mike Vrabel, for 2009’s No. 34 overall pick. (New England used that selection to draft Patrick Chung, who’s started at safety in each of the Pats’ past three Super Bowl appearances.)

In Kansas City, Cassel could not establish himself as a viable long-term solution. Though, the franchise was patient with Cassel at this decade’s outset, giving him 47 starts.

Cassel started four seasons for the Chiefs, but only one of those went well for him. He threw 27 touchdown passes compared to just seven interceptions in 2010 to lead the Chiefs to a surprising AFC West title, but he only started 17 games combined the next two seasons. Injuries and an eventual demotion limited Cassel’s playing time during the Chiefs’ final two Scott Pioli seasons, with a low point coming in Oct. 2012 when a sect of Chiefs fans cheered when the then-starter went down with an injury.

The Chiefs hired Andy Reid and John Dorsey following a disastrous 2-14 season in 2012, and they moved swiftly to add Smith. A day after Smith’s introductory press conference, the Chiefs cut Cassel. However, the Vikings immediately added the veteran as Christian Ponder‘s backup.

Cassel’s been able to land work consistently since. He started six games for the Vikes in 2013 and opened the 2014 season as Teddy Bridgewater‘s stopgap. Cassel was unable to beat out Tyrod Taylor for the Bills’ job in 2015, but he ended up starting seven games during Tony Romo‘s absence that year. He’s since been Marcus Mariota‘s backup and is now at age 36 in position to serve as Matthew Stafford‘s. Interestingly, Vrabel’s Titans decided to cut Cassel this offseason despite the duo’s history as teammates.

But Cassel’s most memorable NFL stay occurred in Kansas City, and he was paid handsomely in an attempt to revive a then-struggling franchise.

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This Date In Transactions History: Jim Brown Retires

On this date in 1966, one of the game’s all-time great rushers called it a career. Jim Brown walked away from football at the age of 30, citing a desire to be a civil rights advocate, a better family man, and a star of the silver screen. 

In today’s NFL, 30-year-old running backs are usually in the twilight of their careers. That was hardly the case with Brown, who ran for a league-leading 1,544 yards while averaging 5.3 yards a carry in 1965.

As good as Brown was, he had other interests, and those interests did not necessarily align with football. When the filming schedule for “The Dirty Dozen” conflicted with training camp, Brown chose the former. Browns owner Art Modell was furious at his decision and vowed to fine him $100 for every day he was not at practice.

So, on July 13, 1966, it was revealed that Brown would retire from the NFL. He formally announced the decision in a press conference on the set of “The Dirty Dozen” that week, but days earlier, he penned the following letter to Modell:

Dear Art:

I am writing to inform you that in the next few days I will be announcing my retirement from football. This decision is final and is made only because of the future that I desire for myself, my family and, if not to sound corny, my race. I am very sorry that I did not have the information to give you at some earlier date, for one of my great concerns was to try in every way to work things out so that I could play an additional year.

I was very sorry to see you make the statements that you did, because it was not a victory for you or I but for the newspaper men. Fortunately, I seem to have a little more faith in you than you have in me. I honestly like you and will be willing to help you in any way I can, but I feel you must realize that both of us are men and that my manhood is just as important to me as yours is to you.

It was indicated in the papers out of Cleveland that you tried to reach me by phone. Well, I hope you realize that when I am in my apartment I never refuse to answer my phone. The only reason that I did not contact you before I knew the completion date of the movie is that the date was the one important factor. You must realize that your organization will make money and will remain successful whether I am there or not. The Cleveland Browns are an institution that will stand for a long, long time.

I am taking on a few projects that are very interesting to me. I have many problems to solve at this time and I am sure you know a lot of them, so if we weigh the situation properly the ‘Browns’ have really nothing to lose, but Jim Brown has a lot to lose. I am taking it for granted that I have your understanding and best wishes, for in my public approach to this matter this will be the attitude that will prevail.

The business matters that we will have to work out we could do when I return to Cleveland. I will give you any assistance I can and hope your operation will be a success. You know the areas that I can be helpful and, even if you do not ask this help, my attitude will be one that I will do only the things that will contribute to the success of the ‘Cleveland Browns.’

Your friend,

Jim Brown

With that, Brown walked away from football and a yearly salary of about $60K. Brown undoubtedly still had gas in the tank, but he also had little left to prove on an individual level.

In nine years of pro football, Brown won the rushing crown eight times and retired as the league’s all-time leading rusher. Even today, the Hall of Famer is tenth on the NFL rushing yards list, which is extra impressive when considering that the regular season was shorter during his time in the league. And, decades later, Brown stands as the franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 12,312 yards on the ground.

This Date In Transactions History: Mike Vrabel Retires

On this date in 2011, Mike Vrabel traded in his pads for a clipboard and whistle. Vrabel, a longtime NFL linebacker, retired from the Chiefs on July 11, 2011 in order to become an assistant coach at Ohio State.

Vrabel was just a few weeks shy of his 36th birthday at the time and was still a productive player on the field. In 2010, he amassed 48 total tackles for the Chiefs and appeared in all 16 games. However, he wasn’t the same player that he was in his prime with the Patriots, and the time he spent with the younger players in KC nudged him in the direction of coaching.

His genuine love for the game, his preparation, his work ethic, leadership and dependability are qualities you want from every player,” then-Chiefs GM Scott Pioli said. “He is a champion in every sense of the word and I’m confident all of these qualities will make him a great coach. I cannot overstate my respect for him as a person and a football player.”

Pioli was right – he had a knack for this coaching thing. Although Vrabel was hired by interim Buckeyes coach (and his former teammate and roommate) Luke Fickell, Urban Meyer elected to keep him on board as a part of his new staff when he took over in December of 2011. In 2014, he hooked on with the Texans as their linebackers coach. In 2017, he was elevated to defensive coordinator in Houston. This past January, the Titans hired him as their head coach after a quick search.

He was the ultimate team-first player, and he embodies that same mindset as a coach,” Titans GM Jon Robinson said after hiring Vrabel. “He is intelligent, energetic, detailed and a leader whose deep passion for this game will resonate with our players. As a coach, I have seen him develop talent at both the college and NFL level, and put players in position for them to be successful.”

Vrabel might have been able to contribute on the field for a 15th NFL season, but he opted to jumpstart his coaching career on this date seven years ago instead. If not for that decision, Vrabel probably wouldn’t have ascended the NFL coaching ladder as quickly as he did to become the Titans’ new head coach this year.

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This Date In Transactions History: Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford is a rich, rich man. Five years ago today, the quarterback signed his second lucrative contract with the Lions. It was a three-year pact worth $53MM.

Nowadays, players look forward to these paydays, as the NFL’s rookie wage scale limits their earnings. However, back in 2013, Stafford was already playing on a lucrative contract with Detroit. After being selected as the first-overall pick in the 2009 draft, the Georgia product inked a record-breaking six-year deal worth $78MM ($41.7MM in guaranteed money). Stafford didn’t live up to his contract during first two seasons in the NFL. However, he had a breakout campaign in 2011, throwing for 5,038 passing yards and 41 touchdowns.

While he took a step back in 2012, the Lions still felt confident enough to sign Stafford to the three-year extension in 2013. At the time, the quarterback still had two seasons remaining on his contract, so the new deal effectively made it a five-year pact worth $76.5MM. The extension portion of the contract included $41.5MM in guaranteed money and a $27.5MM signing bonus. Signing Stafford early also allowed the Lions to reduce his impending $19.3MM cap hit.

I want to be about the team,” he said at the time (via ESPN.com). “I want to help the team out if I can in cap space, whatever it is. I want good players around me as a quarterback. It doesn’t hurt to have weapons and, you know, if I can help out anyway I can, I’m happy to do it.”

In the five years since signing his second extension, Stafford had shown a lot more consistency on the field. The 30-year-old hasn’t missed a game during that span, and he’s averaged around 4,388 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions per season. This improvement played a role in him earning his third contract from the Lions. Last offseason, the quarterback inked a five-year deal worth $135MM ($92MM guaranteed).

Assuming he doesn’t opt out following the 2020 season, there’s a good chance Stafford will continue being the Lions quarterback through the 2022 campaign. He could reach free agency when he’s 35-years-old, meaning Detroit might end up inking their franchise player to his fourth pricey contract.

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