This Date In Transactions History

This Date In Transactions History: Russell Wilson’s First Extension

A Seahawks quarterback. A self-imposed deadline. A new average annual value that ranks among the NFL’s highest. No, we’re not talking about Russell Wilson‘s recent extension with Seattle. We’re looking back at the 2015 deal Wilson inked with the Seahawks, a four-year, $87.6MM pact that contained $31.7MM in full guarantees.

Just as he did before his 2019 extension, Wilson put a deadline on his 2015 negotiations with Seattle. The former third-round pick told the Seahawks that he’d close down talks if a new deal wasn’t agreed to by the start of 2015 training camp. Similar to 2019, it’s unclear how serious Wilson was about his proposed deadline, but the gambit seems to have worked on both occasions. Although a report just a day before the 2015 extension was reached indicated that no deal was close, Wilson and Seattle agreed to fresh pact on July 31, 2015.

While he didn’t quite reach his goal of becoming the NFL’s highest-paid player at the time, Wilson did come close. His annual average value of $21.9MM came up just short of Aaron Rodgers‘ $22MM/year salary. In terms of fully guaranteed money, however, Wilson didn’t approach Rodgers, trailing the Packers signal-caller’s $54M in true guarantees by nearly $22MM.

At the time of his extension, Wilson had led the Seahawks to a 36-12 regular season record and posted a Super Bowl victory. During his first three years in the NFL, Wilson put up a 98.6 quarterback rating, 6.93 adjusted net yards per attempt, and averaged 3,316 yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions per 16 games. Seattle’s winning percentage has dropped in the four seasons since, but Wilson’s production has remained consistent. From 2015-18, he posted a 101.5 quarterback rating, 6.97 ANY/A, and a 3,918/31/9 line per 16 contests.

As in 2019, Wilson’s 2015 extension was followed by a new deal for linebacker Bobby Wagner. But while Wagner was retained, the Seahawks — who no longer had the benefit of Wilson on a cheap rookie contract — had to get rid of other veterans. Significant members of Seattle’s Super Bowl roster, such as Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Russell Okung, Bruce Irvin, and James Carpenter were either allowed to walk via free agency or traded.

Wilson’s current annual salary takes up 18.6% of the Seahawks’ salary cap, which could potentially affect Seattle’s ability to retain talent down the line. Clearly, when you’re lucky enough to have a quarterback like Wilson, you pay him whatever he’s worth. But as Wilson’s 2015 extension showed, there likely will be ripple effects that permeate the rest of the Seahawks’ roster.

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This Date In Transactions History: Herman Moore

Two of the best players in Lions history made major decisions in July 1999. The centerpieces on some explosive Lions offenses in the ’90s, Barry Sanders and Herman Moore headed in opposite directions 20 years ago this month.

A first-team All-Pro from 1994-96, Moore reached an extension agreement with the Lions on July 20, 1999, re-signing to stay in Detroit on a seven-year deal worth $33MM. That contract, which occurred when the league’s salary cap stood at $57.3MM, came with an $8.5MM signing bonus. Moore and Sanders were teammates for nine seasons in the Motor City, but that partnership came to an end eight days later when the Hall of Fame running back retired.

Moore was 29 at the time of this extension and had been one of the NFL’s best wide receivers for several years. The No. 10 overall pick in 1990, Moore used his 6-foot-4 frame well and authored a dominant stretch of football in the mid-’90s. In addition to setting the NFL reception record (123) in 1995 and reeling off four straight Pro Bowl seasons from 1994-97, Moore reached the 600-reception plateau faster than any receiver in NFL history. Moore accomplished that feat in his 118th game, in 1998, a season in which he finished with 983 receiving yards.

The extension, however, did not work out for the Lions. After Moore had played in at least 15 games each regular season from 1993-98, he battled injuries after signing this deal. A knee injury limited Moore to eight games in 1999, and he encountered shoulder trouble in 2000. After playing in 15 games for the 2000 Lions, who saw only Johnnie Morton eclipse 500 receiving yards, Moore suffered a torn abdominal muscle three games into the ’01 season — his last with the Lions. After a one-game Giants cameo, Moore retired in 2002.

The Lions spent the next several years struggling to find a Moore successor. Detroit used top-10 picks in 2003, ’04 and ’05 on wideouts — Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams. None made it into the 2010s with the franchise, with Rogers and Mike Williams flaming out quickly as Lions. Detroit finally hit on a Round 1 wideout in 2007, Calvin Johnson, who ended up breaking Moore’s franchise receiving records.

While he only totaled 707 receiving yards in the three seasons after signing this extension, Moore remains in second in Lions history in receptions (670), yards (9,174) and receiving touchdowns (62).

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This Date In Transactions History: Dolphins Sign Arian Foster

Three years ago today, the Dolphins signed running back Arian Foster. Although he was only 29 years old at the time of signing, it would prove to be his last NFL contract ever. 

At his peak, Foster was among the very best running backs in the game. In 2010, he led the NFL with 1,616 yards on the ground and 16 rushing touchdowns. He was a constant threat as a pass-catcher as well: he had 66 catches for 604 yards in that season and 53 grabs for 617 in the following campaign. Injuries sidetracked Foster in 2013 and 2015, but he turned in four campaigns with 1,200+ yards rushing while with the Texans.

Unfortunately, the sport tends to be cruel to standout running backs. After suffering a ruptured Achilles in 2015, Foster drew little attention in the initial waves of free agency. With Miami, Foster would merely support second-year pro Jay Ajayi after Miller fled to join his old friends in Houston. Despite his accomplishments, Foster netted just a one-year deal worth $1.5MM. The only guaranteed portion of his pact came in the form of a $400K signing bonus.

After appearing in four games for the Fins, Foster shocked everyone with his abrupt retirement.

“There comes a time in every athlete’s career when their ambition and their body are no longer on the same page. I’ve reached that point,” Foster revealed in a written statement. “My father always said, “You’ll know when it’s time to walk away.” It has never been more clear than right now. I’m walking away with peace. I know it’s not commonplace to do it midseason, but my body just can’t take the punishment this game asks for any longer. I want to thank the Miami Dolphins, with everything in me, for allowing me to bow out with grace and making this process as easy as possible.”

Foster cited the injuries as his primary motivation to move on from the game, but he later explained that he had fallen out of love with the game of football. In a 2017 interview with Joe Rogan, Foster said that he found himself on the sidelines of games thinking about physics and other topics of personal interest.

“I kind of just fell out of love with it,” he said of the game. He said that he would be on the sidelines at games thinking about physics of all things.

“Football is not a place for thinkers,” Foster said. “If you are inquisitive it comes off as disruptive.”

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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 2019, Boselli was denied entry in his 13th year of eligibility and his third year as a finalist.

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This Date In Transactions History: Bills Extend Jason Peters

Entering his 16th season, Jason Peters has signed several NFL contracts. The Eagles recently gave their longtime left tackle another extension, this one through the 2020 season. But the first of Peters’ many extension agreements occurred on this date 13 years ago.

On July 14, 2006, the Bills and their UDFA find agreed to terms on a contract that eventually led to the parties splitting up. Peters signed a five-year, $15MM extension during the ’06 offseason, this coming after the Bills tendered him a contract worth $425K. Soon outplaying the teams of his $3MM-AAV deal, Peters became a disgruntled Bill.

The Bills initially took a flier on the former college tight end and defensive end, and this only came to be because of lobbying by the future All-Pro blocker’s agent, and stashed him on their practice squad for most of the 2004 season. Buffalo broke Peters in on special teams before turning to him as its starting right tackle for much of the ’05 slate. Peters had supplanted underwhelming former top-five pick Mike Williams as Buffalo’s top right tackle, and the Bills made the move to lock the emerging talent up the following offseason. The team then moved Peters to the left side midway through the ’06 campaign. That ultimately proved to be a short-term arrangement.

Dissatisfaction over a $3.25MM salary prompted Peters to hold out in 2008, and after he begrudgingly returned to his Bills post that season, the Eagles came in with a trade offer to acquire Peters just before the 2009 draft. The Bills received 2009 first- and fourth-round picks, along with a 2010 sixth-rounder, in the swap. They used the first of those selections to draft future long-term center Eric Wood 28th overall. Philadelphia handed Peters a six-year, $60MM extension, beginning a fruitful era for their offensive line.

Buffalo went through a few left tackles since Peters’ departure, most notably Cordy Glenn, while Peters has started 127 games as an Eagle — fifth-most in franchise history by a pure offensive lineman. Peters ended up making two Pro Bowls with the Bills and seven with the Eagles, also receiving two first-team All-Pro honors in Philly. The Eagles also extended their 37-year-old left-edge protector in 2014, 2017 and 2019.

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This Date In Transactions History: Dwight Freeney

The Colts formed a long-term pass-rushing partnership on this day 12 years ago, finalizing a landmark Dwight Freeney contract. After extending Robert Mathis in 2006, the Colts took care of their cornerstone defensive end the following summer.

On July 13, 2007, Indianapolis inked Freeney to a six-year, $72MM extension that, at the time, represented the biggest contract for a defender in NFL history. Freeney, then 27, received a $30MM signing bonus on a deal that was backloaded to soften the cap burdens in its first two seasons. Freeney’s $37MM-plus in three-year earnings usurped Richard Seymour‘s $28MM three-year figure, which had paced the defender market at the time.

The then-defending Super Bowl champion Colts, who had Mathis on a contract worth $30MM over five years, used their franchise tag on Freeney earlier that year. That tender in 2007 came in at $9.43MM. At this point, both Freeney and Mathis were locked up for the next four seasons together. While the latter ended up outlasting the former in Indianapolis, Freeney made a sizable impact over the course of his deal.

Although Freeney registered only 5.5 sacks during Indy’s Super Bowl title season, and just 3.5 in an injury-shortened ’07, the Syracuse alum rewarded the Colts in the late aughts and early 2010s. Freeney recorded 43.5 sacks from 2008-11, earning Pro Bowl recognition in each season. Equipped with some of the best speed (4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the 2002 Combine) of any pass rusher in NFL history, the former No. 11 overall pick ended his Colts career with a then-franchise-record 107.5 sacks while also forcing 43 fumbles. He played in 17 playoff games (including two Super Bowls) with the franchise, adding nine more sacks in the postseason.

Freeney, who finished his 11-year Colts career with three first-team All-Pro honors, played out the contract before signing with the Chargers in 2013. He ended up playing for the Bolts, Cardinals, Falcons, Lions and Seahawks over the next five seasons, before retiring at age 38. Freeney (125.5 sacks) and Mathis (123) ended their careers adjacent to one another on the all-time sack list, in the Nos. 18 and 19 positions.

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This Date In Transactions History: Giants Extend Victor Cruz

On this date in 2013, Victor Cruz likely performed one of the most enthusiastic salsa dances of his career. Heading into a contract year worth $2.879MM, the Giants receiver inked a five-year extension worth up to $43MM. 

It was a substantial payout for Cruz, but one that reflected his value to the club as well as the league’s increased appreciation of the slot receiver position. Lining up mostly on the inside, Cruz broke out in 2011 with 82 catches, 1,536 yards, and nine touchdowns. His 2012 encore wasn’t quite as efficient (he posted an 86/1092/10 stat line), but he was still recognized as a vital part of the Giants’ passing attack and earned his first career Pro Bowl nod.

Not wanting to risk losing Cruz to free agency after his one-year restricted free agent tender – particularly after watching him carve up the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game – the Giants moved to lock down Cruz for the long term. Cruz could have gambled by staying on track for free agency after the 2013 season, but the added security of the deal, including nearly $16MM in guarantees, provided him with financial security.

In hindsight, it was the smart play for the former undrafted free agent. Initially slowed by a heel bruise, came two yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark in 2013, despite missing two games. Unfortunately, in 2014, the course of his career changed dramatically. A torn patellar tendon ended his campaign after just six games and a calf injury in the following season put him under the knife before he could take the field.

By the time Cruz returned to action in 2016, the Giants’ offense was fully focused on Odell Beckham Jr., who routinely toasted opposing defensive backs and gobbled up targets, catches, yards, and touchdowns. At this point, Cruz’s trademark speed was no longer there, and neither was his former Rabbi, Tom Coughlin. Cruz took a pay cut to stay in the fold, but registered just 39 catches for 586 yards. The two sides were expected to hammer out a similar arrangement for his 2017 season, but they released him instead.

Cruz moved on to the Bears, but a knee injury in the final preseason game torpedoed his comeback attempt. Later, he tried to lobby the Giants to sign him via the local press, but his request went unanswered. Finally, in August of 2018, Cruz announced his retirement and entry into the world of broadcasting with ESPN.

Although Cruz’s time on top was brief, he left the game with a tremendous highlight reel, multiple productive seasons, a Super Bowl ring, and an iconic touchdown celebration that will forever be remembered by Giants fans.

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This Date In Transactions History: Jimmy Clausen Signs With Bears

When Jimmy Clausen‘s tenure with the Panthers ended in 2014, it was uncertain if the quarterback would have a chance to continue his NFL career. However, on June 6th, 2014, the former Notre Dame standout inked a prove-it deal with the Bears, and Clausen ended up parlaying that gig into an additional NFL contract.

Back in 2010, there was hope within the Panthers organization that their second-round rookie quarterback would eventually unseat Matt Moore and lead the organization back to the playoffs. Fortunately, part of that ended up happening; unfortunately, the results were less-than-stellar. The quarterback started 10 games as rookie, but he only managed to complete 52.5-percent of his passes for 1,558 yards, three touchdowns, nine interceptions, and a whopping nine fumbles.

The Panthers’ 2010 season was filled with plenty of turmoil, including an incident where veteran wideout Steve Smith was caught screaming at the rookie quarterback. The team ended up finishing the season was a 2-14 record, and the organization used their subsequent first-overall pick on quarterback Cam Newton. As a result, Clausen was relegated to a backup role, and he continued to slide down the depth chart following the Panthers’ signing of Derek Anderson.

Clausen didn’t see the field during the 2011 or 2012 campaign, and he was waived by the Panthers following the 2013 season (he eventually landed on Carolina’s injured reserve). That effectively ended the quarterback’s stint with the Panthers, and it appeared that his NFL future was on life support.

However, on this day five years ago, Clausen was given another chance. Thanks in part to his previous relationship with Bears head coach Marc Trestman, Clausen earned a contract from Chicago. The quarterback was set to compete with Jordan Palmer and David Fales for the backup spot behind Jay Cutler, with Clausen eventually winning the competition. He ended up getting one start during the 2014 season, as he completed 23 of his 39 pass attempts for 181 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in a loss to the Lions.

The Bears were apparently happy with Clausen’s performance as a backup, and they re-signed him for the 2015 season. However, with Chicago struggling, the organization decided to give Fales a longer look, so the organization waived the journeyman. However, Clausen ended up getting claimed by the Ravens, where he got a pair of starts during the stretch run of the season. Clausen ultimately finished the 2015 season having completed 57.6-percent of his passes for 739 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions.

Following that two-year run as a solid backup quarterback, Clausen’s career ended unceremoniously. However, if it wasn’t for the transaction five years ago today, there’s a good chance that the quarterback’s career would have ended even earlier.

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This Date In Transactions History: NFL Suspends Reuben Foster

With the draft and the first waves of NFL free agency in the rear view mirror, the days leading up to the 4th of July aren’t necessarily a hotbed of activity. However, the league office has been known to use these slow days as an ideal time to release word of suspensions for noteworthy players. 

That’s what the suits at 345 Park Ave. did on this date in 2018 when they banned 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster for the first two games of the regular season. The move, to put it mildly, was controversial – just a few weeks prior, Foster was facing jail time for accusations of domestic abuse against his former girlfriend. Had he been convicted, the club said that he would have been cut. But, after Foster avoided felony convictions, he kept his spot on the roster and the league determined that he would only miss contests against the Vikings and Lions before returning to the active roster on Sept. 17.

This was, admittedly, a tricky situation for the NFL. Initially, his on-and-off girlfriend testified that Foster had beaten her and thrown her down stairs. But, later, she claimed that she fabricated allegations against Foster and actually suffered her visible injuries during a fight with another woman.

Critics of the two-game ban were quick to compare Foster’s situation to the league’s handling of Ezekiel Elliott in 2017. Elliott was accused of multiple instances of domestic violence by a former partner, but was never criminally charged in connection to those events. After conducting their own investigation, the league moved to ban Elliott for six games.

Elliott fought his suspension, but Foster did not.

I accept the League’s decision and am sorry that my mistakes have hurt my team,” Foster said in a statement released by the Niners. “I have a responsibility to the 49ers, our fans and our community, and I am committed to learning from this situation and making better choices in the future. The support I have received over the last five months has been humbling, and I do not take it for granted.”

When Foster was accused of abusing Ennis yet again in November of 2018, the 49ers followed through on their promise to release him. The Redskins pounced, claiming him off waivers days later and expressing confidence that he would not receive another suspension. They were right – the league docked Foster two game checks for the 2019 season but declined to sideline him for any games.

On the same day as Foster’s ban, the league also rejected Julian Edelman‘s appeal and handed Packers running back Aaron Jones a two-game suspension for a substance abuse policy violation. With the statuses of Elliott (again) and Tyreek Hill up in the air, we could see a similar torrent of news today.

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This Date In Transactions History: NFL Suspends Antonio Gates, Sheldon Richardson

The days leading up to the Fourth of July aren’t necessarily a hotbed of activity in the NFL. But, sometimes, the league office will use the cover of the holiday weekend to drop some unfavorable news. That’s what the NFL did on July 2, 2015 when it announced the suspensions of three notable players. 

Four years ago today, the league announced suspensions for Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson, and Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain. All three players were banned for the first four games of the season – Gates for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy and McClain and Richardson for substance abuse policy violations.

Gates issued a statement soon after the suspension came down, saying that he tested positive for a substance that he was unaware was on the league’s banned list. At the time, it felt like the ban could signal the end of the Gates era in San Diego and the beginning of the Ladarius Green era. Green had flashed his immense physical tools in the past, but was buried behind Gates on the tight end depth chart. The youngster was productive in Gates’ absence, but Gates came storming back when he took the field and finished ahead of Green in all major statistical categories. In the following year, Green went on to sign an ill-fated contract with the Steelers and Gates remained as the team’s primary tight end.

Richardson’s suspension, meanwhile, probably hurt his standing with his team. Richardson’s suspension gave rookie Leonard Williams a chance to shine and further reinforced the perception of him as a bad teammate. The former first-round pick turned in the worst season of his career to date and lost upwards of $600K in salary and bonus money as a result of the suspension. The Jets tried hard to trade Richardson throughout the 2016 season, but could not find any takers. Then, just before the start of the ’17 campaign, they shipped him to the Seahawks for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a second-round pick.

McClain’s suspension was the result of violating the league’s substance abuse policy for a fourth time in his NFL career. In a statement, McClain vowed that he would “not break the rules of [his] profession in the future.” Unfortunately, he was unable to keep that promise. In 2016, McClain was suspended for substance abuse yet again, this time for ten games. He later failed another drug test midway through the season, and the NFL slapped him with an indefinite suspensionMcClain has reportedly battled an addiction to “purple drank” (a mixture of codeine-based cold medication and soda) and there has been no word of a potential comeback in some time.

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