This Date In Transactions History

This Date In Transactions History: Jalen Ramsey Requests Trade

The Jalen Ramsey saga in Jacksonville started in earnest on this date in 2019. On September 16, 2019, the Jaguars star cornerback requested a trade.

Before we discuss the trade demand, let’s review a bit. The fifth-overall selection in the 2016 draft quickly emerged as a star in Jacksonville. Following a rookie campaign that saw him earn PFWA All-Rookie Team honors, Ramsey took it to another level in 2017, earning a first-team All-Pro nod after finishing with 63 tackles, 17 passes defended, and four interceptions. Ramsey made his second-straight Pro Bowl in 2018, cementing himself as one of the league’s top defensive backs.

However, things weren’t especially rosy in Jacksonville. First, there was the 2018 team-imposed suspension. Then, following that 2018 campaign, the two sides started firing shots regarding an extension; Ramsey said he wanted a new deal, the Jaguars said “nah, not right now,” and then Ramsey warned that he wasn’t going to give any future discounts. While the cornerback was locked in through 2020 after the Jaguars picked up his fifth-year option, the cornerback started floating out potential suitors as early as August 2019.

Then came the bombshell. On September 16, 2019, Ramsey officially requested a trade from the Jaguars. While the defensive back was still upset about his lack of an extension, he apparently focused his anger on the coaching staff. Tensions reportedly boiled over between Ramsey and head coach Doug Marrone, as the player wanted to play man-to-man vs. the Jaguars’ preferred zone scheme. So, with Ramsey playing in an undesirable system on a rookie contract, he decided to ask out.

It sounded like a trade wouldn’t take too long to pull off. The Jaguars were open to trading their star defensive back, although they were requesting a bounty in return. A number of teams were naturally connected to Ramsey, with one report literally indicating that every team was interested.

There was little progress the week following the trade request. And there was little progress after that. At one point, Jaguars owner Shad Khan revealed that he was willing to give Ramsey a record-breaking contract, which was either a last-ditch effort to keep the player in Jacksonville or a last-ditch effort to save face. Ramsey temporarily continued playing for Jacksonville, but he eventually left the team to attend the birth of his daughter. Ramsey wouldn’t play for the Jaguars again. The team continued to hold out hope that Ramsey would change his mind, and the cornerback did eventually return to practice, but the organization finally found a trade partner for the disgruntled star.

On October 15, almost a month following the request, the Jaguars shipped Ramsey to the Rams. In exchange, Jacksonville received a 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick.

Things ended up working out for Ramsey. He eventually got a hefty five-year, $105MM extension ($71.2MM guaranteed) from the Rams, and he earned a Pro Bowl nod and a first-team All-Pro selection during his first full season in Los Angeles.

It remains to be seen if the deal will work out for the Jaguars. 2020 first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson had an underwhelming rookie campaign while 2021 first-round pick Travis Etienne will miss his entire rookie season thanks to injury. The front office used that fourth-round pick in a trade that netted the draft picks that turned into defensive end Jordan Smith and wideout Jalen Camp (who’s already been waived).

At one point in time, it looked like Ramsey could go down as one of the best players in Jaguars history. However, the cornerback drastically changed the course of his career on this day in 2019.

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This Date In Transactions History: Saints Extend HC Sean Payton

On this date in 2019, Sean Payton got a significant pay bump and commitment from the New Orleans Saints. On September 15, 2019, the head coach inked a new five-year deal with the organization.

Payton, a former QB-turned-coach, spent a few years as Giants offensive coordinator and Cowboys assistant head coach before securing the head coaching job in New Orleans in 2006. Payton’s first three years at the helm left a bit to be desired; the Saints had only one playoff appearance and went 25-23 between the three campaigns. However, the Saints finally broke through in 2009, winning 13 games en route to a Super Bowl championship.

The Saints remained a contender through 2013 (although Payton wasn’t with them in 2012 thanks to a suspension). While the team underwhelmed and went 7-9 each season between 2014 and 2016, Payton and the team managed to rehabilitate their image and rejoin the class of the NFC. The Saints won 24 games between 2017 and 2018, leading to Payton’s extension in 2019.

While Payton’s previous deal paid him around $9MM per season, this new extension was estimated to be worth up to a whopping $13MM annually, making the Saints leader one of the highest-paid head coaches in professional sports history. Payton’s deal was originally set to end following the 2020 season, but the extension (which ripped up the final year of the former deal) kept the head coach in New Orleans through at least 2024.

Perhaps more importantly, the extension kept Payton away from one of the Saints’ NFC foes. Since Payton joined the Saints, the Cowboys made multiple attempts to recruit the coach back to Dallas. Even then, the extension didn’t do much to stop them; the Cowboys reportedly reached out to Payton about their head coaching vacancy in 2019 (which VP Stephen Jones later denied).

While the Saints have been unable to return to the Super Bowl, Payton has still managed to keep the organization relevant. After inking his extension, the head coach guided his team to a 13-3 record in 2019 and a 12-4 record in 2020. There’s some uncertainty about the organization’s ability to compete in the post-Drew Brees era. However, thanks in part to the extension signed on this date in 2019, the Saints brass can rest easy knowing that they have one organizational pillar signed long term.

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This Date In Transactions History: Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell Signs Franchise Tender

On this date in 2017, Le’Veon Bell‘s first holdout officially came to an end. On September 4, 2017, the star running back inked his franchise tender with the Steelers.

By the start of the 2017 regular season, Bell had already established himself as one of the best running backs in football. The former second-round pick had exceeded 1,000 yards from scrimmage in three of his first four seasons, and he collected 31 touchdowns through his first four campaigns. Thanks to that production, Bell wanted to be paid like one of the top running backs in the NFL, and the Steelers were certainly willing to oblige…on their terms. The team seemed to be operating on a year-by-year approach before committing big money to Bell. It was hard to blame the organization; the running back missed three games as a rookie, 10 games in 2015, and another four games in 2016. The team clearly wanted Bell to prove he could stay healthy.

Ultimately, Bell stayed home during training camp and the 2017 preseason after the two sides couldn’t reach agreement on an extension before the deadline. Bell’s decision to hold out was mostly a sign of defiance, but it didn’t sound like there was any tension between the two sides. It was reported throughout the offseason that Bell would show up for Week 1, and he did just that. That led to the September 4th transaction, when Bell inked his franchise tender. The move locked him into a one-year, $12.12MM deal.

Bell had another standout season in 2017, and he managed to appear in 15 games. He earned first-team All-Pro honors after finishing the season with 1,946 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns on a league-leading 406 carries. He also had a pair of touchdowns in the Steelers’ playoff loss to the Jaguars.

Instead of inking Bell to a long-term deal, the Steelers decided to play hard ball again in 2018. The team utilized the franchise tag for a second-straight season, meaning Bell would earn $14.5MM that year. Predictably, the running back held out again, but he’d never return to the team. He didn’t report to the team prior to the deadline to ink his franchise tender, making him ineligible to play in 2018. The Steelers didn’t use the franchise tag in 2019, which finally made Bell a free agent.

The running back ended up getting a four-year, $52.5MM deal from the Jets, and he was somewhat productive during his first season in New York, finishing with 1,250 yards from scrimmage. He dealt with injuries in 2020 and hinted that he wanted a trade, leading to his outright release. He caught on with the Chiefs for the stretch run, and he finished with 353 yards from scrimmage in his nine games with Kansas City. He only saw time in one of the Chiefs’ three playoff games. The 29-year-old remains unsigned for the 2021 season.

It’s hard not to wonder how Bell’s career would currently look had he not sat out that 2018 campaign. His 2017 holdout was a precursor of things to come, and despite the fact that he signed his tag (on this date in 2017), the whole event certainly played a role in his future negotiations with the Steelers.

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This Date In Transactions History: Vikings’ Brock Lesnar Retires From NFL

Seventeen years ago, Brock Lesnar stepped out of the squared circle and on to the gridiron. The WWE superstar hadn’t played organized football since high school, but his athletic ability made the Vikings curious enough to give the muscle-bound homegrown talent an opportunity to compete in training camp as a defensive tackle.

On the surface, this seemed to be a publicity ploy for the former WWE champion, but there was reason to believe that Lesnar could defy the odds and embark on a legitimate professional sports career. Before Lesnar beat the likes of The Rock and The Undertaker, he was an amateur wrestling phenom at the University of Minnesota, where he captured the 2000 NCAA Division I heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestling championship.

At 6’2″ and 285 pounds, Lesnar’s drill times and marks were downright impressive. With a reported 4.7-second 40-yard-dash time, 35-inch vertical leap, and 30 reps on the 225-pound bench press, Lesnar would have bested many DTs at the 2004 combine. For reference, No. 14 overall pick Tommie Harris ran a 4.78-second 40-yard-dash and posted 29 reps on the bench press before the Bears made him the first DT drafted in April.

Despite never playing football in college, Lesnar was still only 26 years old at the time and had real potential as a raw prospect. Still, there was one big problem – an April motorcycle accident left Lesnar with a busted jaw, a broken left hand, a bruised pelvis, and a pulled groin. Playing at less than 100% health, Lesnar’s unlikely mission became even more improbable.

After Lesnar missed the Vikings’ cut in late August, the Vikings offered him a spot on their NFL Europe affiliate team. Citing a desire to stay close to his family in the U.S., Lesnar left football, transitioned to MMA, and went on to become the heavyweight champion of the UFC.

Lesnar’s NFL career was short-lived, but his presence in camp was appreciated by Randy Moss, Nate Burleson, and other members of the Vikings’ locker room who grew up as wrasslin’ fans. Lesnar also got to put his WWE skills to good use while with the Vikes. When a Chiefs defender roughed up Daunte Culpepper during a summer scrimmage, Lesnar grabbed him by the waist, suplexed him high in the air, and slammed him on the turf. At least, that’s how Burleson remembers it.

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This Date In Transactions History: NFL Suspends Marcell Dareus

Five years ago today, Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus was handed his second suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The ban ruled Dareus out for the first four games of the season and marked the beginning of the end of his time in Buffalo.

Dareus reportedly tested positive for marijuana use, which probably wasn’t a deal-breaker in and of itself. It was, however, enough to void a portion of his guarantees. It also didn’t sit well with Bills management, considering that Dareus knew the consequences of a positive test.

Roughly one year prior, the Bills furnished Dareus with a six-year, $95.1MM contract. He showed that he was worth the money in his early years, recording 28.5 sacks from the interior. That included a stellar 2014 with ten sacks – enough to match defensive end Jerry Hughes. In 2015, they asked him to play nose tackle in Rex Ryan‘s 3-4 scheme – he did a decent job of stopping the run, but he garnered just two sacks. They hoped he could build off of that in 2016. Instead, Dareus failed to keep up with his conditioning during the suspension. Between the ban and injuries, he was limited to just eight games that year.

Ryan would go on to lose his job in December of 2016. The Bills tried to send Dareus elsewhere too, but they were unable to find any takers for his contract. Finally, just before the 2017 deadline, they shipped Dareus to the Jaguars for a 2018 Day 3 draft pick. It was an unceremonious end to what could have been a longstanding and productive career in Buffalo.

Even when reunited with old pal Doug Marrone, things just weren’t the same. The Jaguars declined the final year of Dareus’ deal before the start of 2020 and he hasn’t played in the NFL ever since. Dareus is still only 31, but it’s not clear if he’ll ever return to the game.

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This Date In Transactions History: Victor Cruz Retires From NFL

Three years ago today, former Giants superstar Victor Cruz retired from football. Cruz was still shy of his 32nd birthday, but a string of injuries ultimately slowed down the charismatic salsa dancer. 

From 2011 through 2013, Cruz averaged 80 receptions, 1,209 yards, and eight end zone salsas per season. The first year in that set basically came out of the blue. Cruz joined the Giants as an undrafted free agent out of UMass in 2010. In 2011, he managed 82 grabs, 1,536 yards, and nine TDs. 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 – particularly after watching him carve up the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game – the G-Men 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, but the added security of the deal, including nearly $16MM in guarantees, made it a worthwhile tradeoff.

In hindsight, it was the smart play for Cruz. Initially slowed by a heel bruise, he 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. Meanwhile, Cruz’s trademark speed was gone, and so was his longtime mentor Tom Coughlin. Cruz took a pay cut to stay in the fold, but he registered just 39 catches for 586 yards. After that, he moved on to the Bears, only to suffer a season-ending injury at the end of the preseason. When his personal campaign to return to the Giants failed, Cruz called it quits.

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This Date In Transactions History: Washington Releases Orlando Scandrick

It’s never a good sign when a free agent acquisition is cut before the end of the preseason. However, after Orlando Scandrick was cut by Washington on this date in 2018, the cornerback managed to put up one more good season before later calling it a career.

Prior to joining Washington, the 2008 fifth-round pick had spent his entire 10-year career with the Cowboys. However, he only had one 16-game campaign between 2011 and 2017, thanks in part to a suspension and various injuries (including a torn ACL and MCL that wiped out his 2015 season). Following a 2017 campaign that saw him grade out as one of the league’s 15-worst cornerbacks (per Pro Football Focus), Dallas decided to pivot towards a youth movement, leading to Scandrick’s release.

It didn’t take long for the veteran to catch on with Jay Gruden and Washington, as Scandrick inked a two-year pact that could have been worth up to $10MM. However, before he even got to step foot on the field for a regular season game, the organization cut the cornerback. On August 14, 2018, Scandrick earned his walking papers from Washington, with the cornerback earning $1MM during his brief stay. Gruden wouldn’t attribute the move to anything that Scandrick did, instead noting that the move was made thanks to the development of some younger cornerbacks.

It has nothing to do with his play. It was really the emergence of the rookies and [we] wanted Orlando to latch on to another team,” Gruden said “No one could have predicted [the emergence of] [Ranthony] Texada or Danny Johnson.”

However, it didn’t take long for Scandrick to generate some interest from rival clubs. The same day he was released, we learned that the defensive back was generating some interest from the Chiefs, and less than a week later, he officially signed a one-year, $1.5MM deal with Kansas City. During his age-31 season, Scandrick was a productive member of the Chiefs’ secondary, finishing the season with 44 tackles and one interception in 15 games (seven starts). Scandrick fell out of the rotation late in the season, seeing only 12 combined snaps between Kansas City’s final two regular season games and two postseason contests.

Scandrick ended up getting one last NFL gig with the Eagles, and he bounced on and off their roster during the 2019 campaign. He ultimately saw time in three games (one start) for Philly, collecting seven tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles.

It was a bit of an underwhelming end to Scandrick’s career, but many thought his career was finished on this date in 2018. Instead, the cornerback ended up having another productive season.

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This Date In Transactions History: Seahawks Sign LB Bobby Wagner To First Extension

Hindsight is obviously 20/20…but we can definitively say that on this date in 2015, the Seahawks completed one of the best big-money contracts in recent memory. On August 2, 2015, the organization inked linebacker Bobby Wagner to an extension.

The former second-round pick had a breakout campaign in 2014. Despite missing a handful of games due to turf toe, Wagner still managed to compile 104 tackles and two sacks, leading to his first (of seven consecutive) Pro Bowl appearance and his first (of six total) first-team All-Pro nod. The Seahawks clearly prioritized the linebacker as a foundational piece, and after settling Russell Wilson‘s extension, the team ended up inking their star linebacker to a new deal.

The extension was for four years at $43MM, including almost $20MM in guaranteed money. At the time, this was a significant sum of money for a player with only three years experience; in fact, the move made Wagner the highest-paid middle linebacker in NFL history. While the move may have looked a bit pricey, the organization was clearly establishing Wagner as the leader of their defense for years to come. Of course, as we all know, that decision ended up working out great for Seattle.

Wagner only made second-team All-Pro during the final year of his rookie contract in 2015, but since his extension kicked in, he’s established himself as one of the best linebackers in recent memory. The linebacker has made a first-team All-Pro team and a Pro Bowl each year since 2016, averaging 147 tackles, more than 2.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, and almost 11 QB hits per season.

Predictably, the organization once again made him one of the league’s highest-paid linebackers with his second extension. In 2019, the team signed Wagner to a new three-year, $54MM deal, including $40.2MM guaranteed. The deal lasts through the 2022 season.

Wagner had obviously shown flashes of brilliance through his first three years in the NFL, but his 2015 extension surely raised a few eyebrows when it was completed. Fast forward six years, and we’re now applauding the organization for the deal.

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This Date In Transactions History: Browns Extend OL John Greco

The 2013 offseason was a busy one for the Cleveland Browns. The organization replaced general manager Tom Heckert Jr. with Michael Lombardi, and they hired Rob Chudzinski as head coach after canning Pat Shurmur. The team also made significant changes to the roster, ditching former third-round quarterback Colt McCoy and signing veteran Jason Campbell to a two-year deal. The front office also traded former third-overall pick Trent Richardson

One of the moves that went under the radar was a move made on July 23rd, 2013. On that date, the organization signed offensive lineman John Greco to a five-year, $13MM deal. The contract featured only $3MM in guaranteed money.

Greco originally joined the Browns before the 2011 season, as the Rams traded their former third-round pick to Cleveland for a conditional seventh-rounder. Greco appeared as a backup in 15 games during the 2011 campaign, but he endeared himself to the organization in 2012 when he started 10 games in place of Jason Pinkston.

The Browns proceeded to ink Greco to a surprisingly lengthy extension, but the organization ended up getting plenty out of the offensive guard. The lineman started 56 games for Cleveland between 2013 and 2016, including a stint at center when regular starter Alex Mack was sidelined.

While Greco dealt with a handful of injuries during his tenure in Cleveland, he emerged as a dependable, reliable option for the coaching staff. While he certainly wasn’t a household name, the lineman consistently ranked in the top-20 of Pro Football Focus’ offensive guard rankings.

Cleveland made some changes to their offensive line before the 2017 season, adding Kevin Zeitler and center J.C. Tretter. Greco was ultimately cut by the Browns at the end of the preseason. He didn’t end up seeing the field during his subsequent stint with the Saints, but he appeared in 21 games (with seven starts) for the Giants between the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

While Greco’s career ended unceremoniously, he’s getting his time in the (PFR) limelight today.

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This Date In Transactions History: Broncos QB Drew Lock Signs Rookie Contract

On this date two years ago, Drew Lock signed his first NFL deal. On July 17, 2019, the second-round pick signed his rookie contract with the Denver Broncos.

By the 2019 offseason, John Elway was preparing for his third attempt to find Peyton Manning‘s long-term successor. His first two swings (2012 second-round pick Brock Osweiler and 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch) hadn’t worked out, and after the Broncos completed their third-straight losing season, Elway was willing to give it another go.

Unfortunately for Elway, the 2019 draft wasn’t known for its QB depth. Outside of presumed number-one pick Kyler Murray, there were only a handful of alternatives (Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins, Lock) with a first- or second-round grade. So, instead of reaching for someone with the No. 10 pick (or trading up for Jones), Elway decided to trade back in the first round and later trade up in the second to select Lock.

Lock was a worthy choice at No. 42. The Mizzou product finished his collegiate career with 99 touchdown passes — including 44 as a junior — and 12,193 yards, and he earned All-SEC honors in both 2017 and 2018. Thanks to that performance, Lock’s camp seemed to think that he was worthy of a first-round salary (or at least more than the allotted salary for an early-ish second-round pick). Lock’s agent was reportedly seeking a “quarterback premium,” which meant they wanted more money than the draft slot dictated.

However, the two sides ultimately came to an agreement on this date in 2019. The Broncos didn’t end up giving into any demands of an overslot deal; the team gave Lock the same workout bonuses as their other second-round pick (Dalton Risner), and the quarterback’s $3.1MM signing bonus was the standard amount for the No. 42 slot.

Declining to overpay Lock may have been a wise decision by the Broncos front office. While Lock impressed a bit after replacing Joe Flacco during his rookie season (4-1 record, 7 touchdowns vs. three interceptions), he struggled during his first full season as a starter in 2020. The quarterback guided Denver to a 4-9 record in 13 starts, connecting on 57.3-percent of his passes for 2,933 yards, 16 touchdowns, and an NFL-high 15 interceptions.

2021 will surely be a make-or-break season for the 24-year-old, and he probably won’t see as long of a leash during the early parts of the season. For starters, head coach Vic Fangio is likely fighting for his job, and secondly, the organization has a serviceable backup plan with veteran Teddy Bridgewater. Further, the organization recently hired GM George Paton, and if the Broncos struggle in 2021, there’s a good chance the front office will be looking to bring in their own young QB.

As always, there was plenty of optimism surrounding Lock’s signing on this date in 2019. However, fast forward two years, and the second-round QB is now struggling to retain his starting gig.

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