This Date In Transactions History

This Date In Transactions History: Texans Extend Benardrick McKinney

Today marks the three-year anniversary of Benardrick McKinney‘s five-year, $50MM extension with the Texans. If you forgot to get the inside linebacker a gift, that’s alright. He probably doesn’t need much in the way of gadgets and home furnishings for his new Miami-area pad. 

McKinney, a 2015 second-round pick out of Mississippi State, emerged as one of the Texans’ top defenders in his sophomore NFL season. He was solid as a rookie, but as a second-team All-Pro nod in 2016, he finished out with 129 tackles, five sacks, and a forced fumble, ensuring that he would see a sizable pay bump in the offseason. His 2017 stat sheet wasn’t quite as gaudy – 95 tackles and three sacks – but he was still impressive and placed as Pro Football Focus’ No. 24 ranked linebacker in the NFL.

Because he was a second-round pick, the Texans didn’t have the fifth-year option as a safety net. By 2018, McKinney was set to enter his walk year, when he could potentially send his sticker price through the roof. McKinney, meanwhile, was 25 and wanted the security of a multi-year deal. It was the right time for both parties to come to the table and the Texans were happy to oblige. The deal also gave them a clearer picture of their budget as they considered an extension for Jadeveon Clowney (though they ultimately couldn’t make it work).

McKinney went on to earn a Pro Bowl nod in 2018 and racked up 100+ tackles again in 2019. Last year, however, a shoulder injury limited him to just four games. Then, the Texans were in a bit of a pickle as they had to replace franchise icon J.J. Watt. Earlier this year, they shipped McKinney to the Dolphins for edge rusher Shaq Lawson. In cap terms, the deal was pretty much a wash. But, on the field, the Texans effectively swapped Watt and McKinney for Lawson and newcomer Christian Kirksey.

Now, McKinney is set to start alongside Jerome Baker, who just landed a sizable extension of his own. When McKinney was at his best, he formed one of the league’s best run-stuffing tandems with Zach Cunningham. This Dolphins duo has the potential to be even better, if McKinney can match Baker’s strides in pass coverage.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Eagles Extend Fletcher Cox

Five years ago today, the Eagles locked up Fletcher Cox to a six-year, $103MM deal. The pact, which included $63MM in total guarantees, tied the defensive tackle to Philly through the 2022 season. 

Our retrospectives often deal with contracts that didn’t make it all the way to the end. After all, that’s the nature of the NFL, where injuries are common and true long-term security is hard to come by. However, Cox has mostly held up his end of the bargain. At the time of signing, Cox was coming off of his first ever Pro Bowl appearance. Now, he’s up to six straight, including a 2018 All-Pro nod.

The Eagles started talks in the spring, but things stalled into the summer. Cox skipped the Eagles’ voluntary workouts, leaving some to wonder whether a deal would ever come together. Still, Howie Roseman called Cox a “huge part” of the Eagles’ future and he backed that up by making him the second-highest paid defender in NFL history (at the time), just behind Ndamukong Suh and just ahead of Olivier Vernon. The $63MM in guaranteed cash was notable, and $55.5MM of that was effectively guaranteed at signing — $1.5MM more than Aaron Rodgers got on his re-up.

Cox remains a key cog on the Eagles’ defensive line, having notched 6.5 sacks from the interior last year. However, Jeff McLane of The Inquirer hears that the team has some concern about his conditioning. The feeling in Philly is that Cox hasn’t been as dedicated as Rams star Aaron Donald, and there’s concern that it will catch up with him sooner rather than later. If Cox loses a step, the Eagles won’t be inclined to carry his $23.8MM cap hit into 2022. Instead, the Birds could drop him between now and next spring, saving $10.6MM against $13.15MM in dead money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: 49ers Release Jerry Rice

The 2001 free agency period featured some key players change teams. Simeon Rice and Priest Holmes relocated and soon became All-Pros, and the Buccaneers landed eventual Super Bowl starter Brad Johnson. But the biggest name available that year was not up for debate.

Jerry Rice became a free agent 20 years ago today, and although he did not last long unattached, the legendary wide receiver hitting the market was certainly notable. The 49ers made Rice a cap casualty on June 4, 2001, taking advantage of the post-June 1 cut designation that allowed for cap relief. Because post-June 1 cuts at this point required the team to make such moves after that date, another free agency wave took place annually.

This ended Rice’s storied 49ers tenure, which lasted 16 years and saw the eventual 20-year veteran set every major career receiving record there is. Rice signed a seven-year, $32MM contract in the summer of 1996; that deal was set to take him through the 2003 season. The 49ers and their all-time great agreed to multiple restructures, including a redo in 2000. Rice said at the time of the last restructure he wanted to finish his career in San Francisco, but that did not end up coming to pass.

The 49ers prepared for this transaction months ahead of it transpiring. Their Week 16 game against the Bears in 2000 doubled as “Jerry Rice Day,” with the then-38-year-old receiver playing his final game as a 49er at Candlestick Park. Terrell Owens, closing out his fifth season with the 49ers, did some reasonable upstaging by catching 20 passes to break the NFL’s then-50-year-old single-game reception record. A 1996 third-round pick who would end up following Rice to Canton, Owens earned the first of his five first-team All-Pro honors that season and had entrenched himself as San Francisco’s No. 1 wideout entering the 2000s. The last of Rice’s NFL-record 10 first-team All-Pro nods came in 1996.

Rice’s exit marked the end of a 49ers era, one that rapidly wound down after Steve Young sustained a career-ending injury in September 1999. Rice was to earn a $4.1MM salary in 2001, and although his first Raiders contract — a four-year, $5.4MM pact — called for him to make just $1.4MM that season, the veteran landed on his feet in Oakland. After playing on a 6-10 Niners team in 2000, Rice ended up helping the Raiders make the playoffs over the next two years.

He agreed to terms with the Raiders a day after his 49ers release, joining the Silver and Black ahead of what would be Jon Gruden‘s final season (of his first Raiders stay, that is). After back-to-back years in which he was held under 900 receiving yards, Rice rebounded with consecutive 1,100-plus-yard seasons in Oakland. The second of those, during the Raiders’ 2002 AFC championship campaign, produced his 14th and final Pro Bowl invite at age 40. The Raiders gave Rice a six-year, $30MM extension in 2003.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Chiefs Release Jeremy Maclin

Four years ago today, the Chiefs shocked everyone 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. Instead of waiting to see what the 29-year-old could do, they opted for more cap space and more targets for their younger receivers, including second-year pro Tyreek Hill

At the time of his release, Maclin was not far removed from his 1,000+-yard 2015 season, or even his stellar 2014 with the Eagles, when he set a career high of 1,318 yards. His 2015 debut with Kansas City was, in some respects, even more impressive – Maclin caught 70.2% of his targets, easily topping his career 61.3% mark.

Still, the Chiefs saw an opportunity to save in an area where they already had a surplus of talent. Dropping Maclin saved the club $10MM in cap room with just $2.4MM left in dead money. The move made sense from a club perspective, but the timing was less-than-fair for the veteran.

Had he been released in March, Maclin would have had an opportunity to secure a solid multi-year payday. The league wasn’t all that juiced about the free agent WR market that offseason – Alshon Jeffery led the way with a one-year, $14MM deal and Terrelle Pryor settled for a one-year, $6MM deal, despite his camp’s best efforts to position him as an eight-figure salary player. In June, he was viewed as the bell of the ball, ahead of options like Anquan Boldin, Steve Johnson, Eddie Royal, and Marquess Wilson. But, most of the money had already dried up. He wound up signing with the Ravens on a two-year, $11MM deal.

Maclin never got the opportunity to justify his hefty five-year, $55MM pact in KC, and he clearly wasn’t the same player when he moved on to Baltimore. He finished out with just 40 catches for 440 yards for an average of eleven yards per grab – all career lows. Then, an injury wiped out his 2018 season. In 2019, Maclin wasn’t able to scare up much interest as a free agent, so he retired at the age of 30.

The decision to drop Maclin was puzzling at the time, but it’s hard to argue with the call in retrospect. Hill went on to have a breakout 2017 with 75 catches, 1,183 yards, and seven touchdowns. And, in the last two years, their explosive offense has propelled them to two AFC titles and one Super Bowl ring.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Rams Release Kurt Warner

One of the best rags-to-riches tales in NFL history (temporarily) came to an end on this date 17 years ago. While no one knew it at the time, the story still had years to go before its conclusion. On June 1, 2004, the Rams released veteran quarterback Kurt Warner.

Warner, of course, went from an undrafted free agent and Arena Football League standout to NFL MVP. By the end of the 2003 campaign, Warner had easily cemented himself as one of the top athletes in St. Louis history. After getting thrust into the Rams starting lineup in 1999, the QB would go on to win a pair of MVPs, twice lead the NFL in touchdowns, and win a Super Bowl (along with a Super Bowl MVP). However, the wheels started to come off a bit during the 2002 season. Warner was limited to only six starts that season, with the Rams going 0-6 in those contests.

Warner was the starter to begin the 2003 campaign, but it somehow got worse. During his lone start, he had six fumbles, leading to his official benching. Meanwhile, fill-in Marc Bulger guided the Rams to a 12-3 record as a starter, cementing his spot as the Rams’ QB of the future. As a result, Warner found himself on the outs in St. Louis.

The writing was on the wall during the 2004 offseason. The Rams organization continued to work on a long-term pact with Bulger, and they also signed Chris Chandler to serve as the backup play-caller. So, with the June 1 deadline officially passing, the Rams decided to move on from Warner on this date in 2004. The move saved the Rams about $4.8MM in cap room while costing them about the same amount in dead cap, and they had to eat another $6MM-plus in 2005.

While Warner was reportedly seeking a starting gig following his release, he ultimately settled into a backup role as Eli Manning‘s mentor with the Giants. Warner actually had a chance to start at the beginning of the year, and he showed some improvement from his dreadful 2002 and 2003 campaigns. Still, he only finished with six touchdowns in nine starts, and the Giants voided the second-year of the QB’s contract at the conclusion of the season.

Warner added another chapter to his story in 2005. The veteran joined the Cardinals, and while he’d eventually earn a place in Arizona lore, it took a while for him to fully secure the starting gig. Thanks in part to injuries and the team’s desire to play top draft picks (including Matt Leinart), Warner only saw time in 16 games through his first two seasons with the organization, collecting a 3-12 record.

However, Warner experienced a career turnaround in 2007; his 27 touchdowns were his highest total since 2001. Then, Warner truly put himself back on the NFL map in 2008, earning a Pro Bowl nod after completing 67.1-percent of his passes for 4,583 yards and 30 touchdowns. More importantly, he guided his team to the Super Bowl, where he eventually lost to the Steelers. 2009 was another standout season for Warner, as he tossed 26 touchdowns while leading the Cardinals to a 10-5 record. However, that iteration of the Cardinals got blown out in the Divisional Round, and Warner announced his retirement soon after the season.

While no one thought Warner’s career was finished when he was released by the Rams on this date in 2004, few pundits probably envisioned him returning to the Pro Bowl, much less the Super Bowl. Just like Warner did during the early parts of his career, the QB managed to persevere and surprise during the second-half of his storied career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Chiefs Promote Chris Ballard, Brett Veach

Despite going 50 years between their second and third Super Bowl appearances, the Chiefs have become the AFC’s best team to start the 2020s. They became the only non-Patriots AFC team to reach back-to-back Super Bowls since the Broncos more than 20 years ago and, per, are slight preseason favorites to win Super Bowl LVI.

Although Andy Reid is rightfully associated with the franchise going from a 2-14 2012 season to seven playoff appearances over the next eight years, the Chiefs developed some front office talent during this span. The Reid-John Dorsey power structure included key lieutenants, and two of those — Chris Ballard and Brett Veach — took steps toward future GM posts on this day six years ago.

On May 29, 2015, the Chiefs promoted both to the jobs they held when GM offers came. Ballard rose from Chiefs player personnel director to director of football operations, and Veach climbed to a co-director of player personnel post. Both execs served as key Dorsey sidekicks, with Ballard in particular drawing frequent outside interest. Ballard and Veach came to Kansas City along with Reid in 2013.

The Bears, Ballard’s team before he joined the Chiefs, interviewed he and Ryan Pace for their GM post on the same day in January 2015. That job ended up going to Pace, who remains Chicago’s GM. Ballard also surfaced on the Jets and Lions’ GM radars and interviewed for the Titans’ GM post that went to Jon Robinson. The Chiefs denied the 49ers permission to speak with Ballard in early 2017. The Colts hired him months later.

Veach has worked with Reid since breaking into the NFL as an Eagles intern in 2004. A step behind Ballard in Kansas City, Veach did not interview for any outside GM jobs like his former coworker. But the Chiefs ended up promoting him to replace Dorsey, whom Clark Hunt fired in June 2017, shortly after Ballard left for Indianapolis. Both GM rises have produced success.

The Colts quickly rebounded from three straight playoff absences, having made the playoffs in two of the past three years. Indianapolis did so despite some stunning sequences — Josh McDaniels‘ bailing on a head coaching agreement and Andrew Luck abruptly retiring — proving temporary setbacks. Although measured in free agency, Ballard, 51, has been aggressive on the trade market in recent years — as deals for DeForest Buckner and Carson Wentz have shown.

Following the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV victory, the team gave Veach a six-year extension. Veach, 43, played a key role in the then-Dorsey-led Chiefs trading up for Patrick Mahomes in 2017 and as GM helped give the superstar quarterback help. After revamping Kansas City’s porous defense in 2019, Veach extended Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chris Jones in 2020. The Mahomes deal remains the NFL’s richest pact, at $45MM annually, though its 10-year structure stands to benefit the Chiefs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Bears Sign Victor Cruz

On this date in 2017, Victor Cruz joined the Bears on a one-year deal. With that, the longtime Giants wide receiver was set to start his next chapter. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out as expected. 

Cruz was a logical fit for the Bears after they lost Alshon Jeffery in free agency. With their WR1 gone, they were left with Cameron Meredith, the injury-prone Kevin White, veteran Kendall Wright, Daniel Braverman, and Markus Wheaton as their top targets. Cruz was not a one-for-one replacement for Jeffery at this stage of his career, but there was a clear path to the 53-man roster. Then, in the preseason, he suffered a knee injury that took him out of the equation.

From 2011 through 2013, Cruz averaged 80 receptions, 1,209 yards, and eight end zone salsas per season for the Giants. Cruz, a former undrafted free agent out of UMass, came out of nowhere and captivated the NFL . Later, the Giants locked Cruz down with a five-year extension worth up to $43MM. Cruz could have gambled by staying on track for free agency after the 2013 season. With hindsight, Cruz was pretty happy about his decision, which yielded nearly $16MM in guaranteed cash.

Things started to come apart in 2014, thanks to a torn patellar tendon, followed by a calf injury. By ’18, Cruz was still just 31, but also years removed from live action. So, after unsuccessfully lobbying the Giants to bring him back, Cruz called it a career. His final NFL contract came from the Bears, but he left the game having only played for the G-Men.

This Date In NFL Transactions History: Dan Snyder Approved As Owner Of Washington Franchise

As with any ownership change, there was optimism in Washington on this date in 1999. Fast forward 22 years, and this was an era that fans would probably prefer to forget. On May 25, 1999, Daniel Snyder was approved as the new owner of the Washington NFL franchise.

The organization was up for sale following the death of former owner Jack Kent Cooke, and Snyder ponied up a then-record $800MM for the team and Jack Kent Cooke Stadium (which is now FedEx Field). Snyder’s first season at the helm was a success; his team won 10 games, the first time they hit double-digit victories since their Super Bowl-winning season in 1991. Since that time, the on-field product has been disappointing (to say the least).

Since Snyder took over as owner, the team has gone 149-202-1 with only six playoff appearance. The team has also shuffled through 10 head coaches, including four different coaches between 1999 and 2002. Snyder hasn’t necessarily endeared himself to fans during this time; he sued season ticket holders during a recession, he temporarily banned fans from bringing signs into his stadium, and he threatened a lawsuit against a local newspaper that detailed his various controversies.

Speaking of…Snyder has also found himself in a number of off-field controversies. The owner was at the forefront of the whole name-change fiasco, refusing to change the Redskins moniker until pressured by major sponsors in 2020. That same year, Snyder was a main player in a Washington Post series that detailed rampant sexual harassment and discrimination within the organization. All the while, Snyder has found himself engaged in a number of additional ventures. This includes sports radio, an Arena Football League team, Six Flags, and Johnny Rockets. Generally, these side hustled didn’t work out all that well.

Unfortunately for fans of WFT, it doesn’t sound like Snyder is going anywhere any time soon. After selling part of his ownership to pay off team debt, Snyder managed to repurchase the remaining 40.5-percent of the team this past March. The purchase was unanimously approved by league owners.

On this date in 1999, Washington fans were likely dreaming of a return to glory. Instead, these fans have endured plenty of controversies (along with rising ticket prices and parking) in exchange for a pair of playoff wins over two-plus decades.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Seahawks Sign D.K. Metcalf

On this date in 2019, the Seahawks inked D.K. Metcalf to his first pro contract. The Ole Miss product was projected to be a first-round pick, but was left to sign for just $4.6MM over four years after an unexpected slide.

Earlier in the evening, the Seahawks moved down twice. Then, once Metcalf tumbled, the Seahawks went back up the ladder to grab the Patriots’ No. 64 pick. Some evaluators weren’t all that high on Metcalf, apparently, but few could argue with the value.

Metcalf drew national attention for his physique, but the Seahawks saw him as more than just a 6’3″ mass of muscles. He first broke out on the scene with 39 grabs for 646 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore at Ole Miss. His follow-up year wasn’t quite as stellar — Metcalf was limited to just seven games while A.J. Brown stole the show.

Taken near the end of Round 2, Metcalf wound up as the ninth receiver to come off the board. But, other than Brown and Terry McLaurin, he dazzled like no other rookie WR that year. Straight off the bat, Metcalf had 58 catches for 900 yards and seven touchdowns. Then, last year, he took his game to a whole ‘nother level with 83 receptions for 1,303 yards and ten touchdowns.

Metcalf used his draft night slight as fuel and took that momentum into 2020 for an even bigger year. With similar progression, Metcalf could set himself up for a serious fifth-year payday while his first-round counterparts play out their option seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In NFL Transactions History: Giants Acquire K Lawrence Tynes

On this date 14 years ago, the Giants and Chiefs pulled off a trade that probably would have been filed under one of our ‘Minor Transactions’ posts (had PFR existed at the time). While no one knew it at the time, the key player in the trade would ultimately play a major role in both of the Giants Super Bowl runs. On May 22, 2007, the Kansas City Chiefs traded kicker Lawrence Tynes to the Giants for a future seventh-round pick.

The 2001 undrafted free agent out of Troy had to spend a couple of years in the Canadian Football League before finally getting an opportunity with the Chiefs. He spent three years in Kansas City but didn’t do anything miraculous, converting only 78.2-percent of his field goals attempts. He also blew a field goal attempt in a playoff game against the Colts, drawing the ire of head coach Herm Edwards. The organization would later select UCLA’s Justin Medlock in the fifth-round of the draft, leading to Tynes departure.

The Giants seemed like a natural trade partner after losing Jay Feely in free agency, and they were looking for a veteran who could compete with former undrafted free agent Josh Huston. So, on May 22, 2007, the two teams pulled off the transaction, with Kansas City receiving a reported ‘undisclosed’ pick. We later learned that the mystery selection was a 2008 seventh-round pick (which ultimately turned into No. 239), which the Chiefs used on fullback Michael Merritt.

Tynes ended up winning the job for the Giants, and he proceeded to have a career year in 2007. He connected on a career-high 85.2-percent of his field goals, and he converted 40 of his 42 extra point tries. However, the kicker truly inserted himself into Giants lore with his performance in the 2007 postseason. At one point, Tynes was in the doghouse instead of the penthouse; in the NFC Championship Game, he missed a pair of fourth-quarter field goals (although one was on a bad snap), and the game ultimately went to overtime. However, Tynes redeemed himself by making a 47-yarder in overtime to send the Giants to the championship game. Tynes wasn’t the hero of the Super Bowl, but he still converted his one field goal attempt and two extra point attempts, earning himself his first ring.

Tynes missed most of the 2008 season with a knee injury, but he returned to the starting gig the following year. The kicker maintained his 83-percent(ish) field goal percentage in 2009 and 2010, but he started to show some cracks in 2011, missing five of his 24 field goal attempts. During the 2011 postseason, Tynes redeemed himself once again with playoff heroics. He kicked another game-winning field goal (this time against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game), becoming the only player in NFL history to have a pair of postseason overtime/game-winning field goals. The Giants would again beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, with the kicker making each of his field goal attempts in that game.

Tynes would spend one more season in New York, making a career-high 33 field goals. He signed with the Buccaneers the following offseason, but he missed the entire season thanks to a toe infection that ultimately led to a lawsuit against the team (if you’re curious, Google ‘Buccaners MRSA’). Tynes ultimately retired after getting released the following offseason.

When this trade was pulled off on May 22, 2007, it probably didn’t catch the attention of many fans. However, with the value of hindsight (and considering Tynes’ penchant for making dramatic overtime field goals in the playoffs), you could argue that this was one of the biggest transactions that influenced the Giants two Super Bowl runs.