This Date In Transactions History

This Date In Transactions History: Jets DL Sheldon Richardson Suspended Four Games

Sheldon Richardson had a tumultuous 2015 offseason, and his issues (and, potentially, the beginning of the end of his Jets tenure) started on this date seven years ago. On July 2, 2015, the Jets defensive lineman was slapped with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Richardson was a first-round pick by the Jets in 2013. After winning Defensive Rookie of the Year during the 2013 campaign, Richardson followed that up with a Pro Bowl season in 2014. That year, Richardson collected 67 tackles and eight sacks in 16 starts. Things were looking good for the younger pass rusher, but then trouble hit.

During the 2015 offseason, Richardson was hit with a four-game ban for a substance abuse violation. We later learned that the player was suspended for marijuana use. Nowadays, players only face a fine for marijuana use, a rule that was negotiated in 2020 as part of the CBA. In 2015, there were several stages to the league’s policy for marijuana use before a four-game suspension could be handed down. In other words, this wasn’t Richardson’s first positive test, and after several warnings, the NFL finally decided to slap the player’s wrist with a suspension.

Only two weeks later, Richardson was arrested in Missouri and charged with resisting arrest and traffic violations. According to reports, the player was street racing at speeds that exceeded 140 miles per hour, and he later tried to evade police who were trying to pull him over. When the car was finally pulled over, it smelled of marijuana, and officers later found a loaded handgun under the driver’s seat. The car was also occupied by two other men and a 12-year-old child. While Richardson avoided drug, gun, or child endangerment charges, he was later found guilty of reckless driving and resisting arrest.

Following his suspension, Richardson was productive in his 11 games in 2015, finishing with 35 tackles and five sacks. He was hit with a one-game ban in 2016 for his previous arrest, and while he still managed to play a significant role, his pass-rushing ability seemed to decline.

Thanks in part to his off-the-field issues, his declining production, and his hefty $8MM fully guaranteed salary for 2017 (via the Jets picking up his fifth-year option), Richardson found himself on the trade block following the 2016 season. The player refused to take a pay cut with any new squad, limiting the Jets’ trade opportunities. Eventually, the organization found a taker in the Seahawks, who gave up a future second-round pick and Jermaine Kearse.

Richardson got into 15 games during the 2017 season, but the Seahawks decided to move on after he finished with only 44 tackles and one sack. He had a bounce-back season in Minnesota in 2018, finishing with 4.5 sacks. That performance earned him a three-year contract from the Browns, and following 32 games and 7.5 sacks between two seasons, the veteran was cut. He rejoined the Vikings last offseason, and he finished the season with 39 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 17 games (seven starts).

With the Jets having used the 13th-overall pick on Richardson, they didn’t get the best return on investment during his four years with the team. Fortunately for the organization, they somewhat managed to save face with the assets they received from Seattle. The Jets got two solid seasons out of Kearse (including a career year in 2017), and the second-round pick was ultimately used in the trade with the Colts for the third-overall pick, a selection that ultimately turned into QB Sam Darnold.

Richardson’s declining production and hefty salary certainly played major roles in the Jets looking to eventually move on. However, the off-the-field issues undeniably played a role, and those issues seemingly started to become public knowledge on this date in 2015.

This Date In Transactions History: Thomas Davis Signs Extension With Panthers

“I now get to officially end my career as a Carolina Panther and that means the world to me.”

That’s how Thomas Davis responded to the two-year extension he inked on this date in 2015. Of course, like most sports stories, things rarely work out as expected.

The 14th overall pick out of Georgia back in 2005, Davis was a key member of the Panthers defense for more than a decade. While the linebacker was limited to only seven games between the 2009 and 2011 seasons, he otherwise missed only nine contests in his 11 healthy seasons with the organization. By the time 2015 came around, Davis had already racked up nearly 750 tackles to go along with 17.5 sacks, six interceptions, and 13 forced fumbles.

He was a Panthers icon, and with only one year remaining on his contract, he was eager to ink one last deal with the only organization he had ever played for. So, on June 15, 2015, the two sides agreed to a two-year extension that would last through the 2017 campaign. In total, the player earned about $6MM per year on the new deal, which was a modest amount for a linebacker eyeing the end of his career.

In an unpredictable twist, Davis was about to go on the best three-year stretch of his career. During his age-32 campaign in 2015, the veteran earned his first-career All Pro nod and Pro Bowl appearance, and he was wildly productive in three postseason contests. He’d earn Pro Bowl spots in 2016 and 2017, as well. Prior to that 2017 season, Davis inked one more extension, this time for one year. Heading into that 2018 campaign, the linebacker made it clear that it would be his last season.

After sitting out the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, he ended up starting all 12 of his appearances in 2018, finishing with 79 tackles. That 2018 season ended up being a disappointment for the Panthers; after having made the postseason in four of the previous five seasons, Carolina failed to crack the playoffs after going 7-9. This disappointment apparently influenced Davis to give it another go, but the Panthers weren’t interested in a reunion, with Davis telling reporters that the organization wanted “to go in a different direction” at the position.

“I wanted to be back,” Davis said (via NFL.com). “I wanted to be part of a group that came and just [righted] the wrongs that we had this season. As one of the leaders of this team, I took full responsibility for some of the things that we allowed to happen and the games that we lost consecutively. I wanted to come back and wanted to help fix that. Unfortunately I’m not going to have that opportunity.”

Davis ended up catching on with the Chargers for the 2019 campaign, collecting 112 tackles in 16 starts. After getting into seven games with Washington in 2020, the linebacker decided to hang up his cleats.

While Davis thought he was going to end his career with the Panthers following that 2017 campaign, a late-career breakout changed some things. Fortunately for the player, he still got his wish to retire with the Panthers when he inked a one-year contract with the team in March, 2021.

This Date In Transactions History: Tim Tebow Joins The Eagles

On April 20th, 2015, quarterback Tim Tebow joined Eagles. At the time, this was presumed to be the two-time BCS national champion’s last chance in the NFL. 

Tebow inked a one-year deal, seemingly settling for a backup gig in Philly. It was a reminder of how far the former first-rounder had fallen in only a few years’ time. In 2011, Tebow appeared in 14 games (11 starts) for the Broncos, completing 126 of his 271 pass attempts (46.5% completion percentage) for 1,729 yards, 12 touchdowns, and six picks. He also added 660 rushing yards and six scores on 122 carries. The Florida product also appeared in two playoff games that season, including a dramatic overtime win over the Steelers.

However, after Denver inked Peyton Manning to a contract prior to the 2012 season, Tebow was traded to the Jets. The quarterback ended up making 12 appearances (two starts) for New York that year. While he only attempted eight pass attempts, he did compile 102 rushing yards on 32 carries. His season ended prematurely after he suffered two broken ribs.

Tebow was released by the Jets following that season, and he caught on with the Patriots during the 2013 preseason. Ultimately, New England let him go prior to the regular season, and Tebow transitioned to a broadcasting gig. However, on this date, he received a new NFL opportunity.

When the Eagles signed Tebow, they were hoping he’d compete with Matt Barkley to be the team’s third-string signal-caller behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez. Tebow ended up getting action in all four of Philly’s preseason games, completing 21 of his 36 attempts for 286 yards, two scores, and one pick. He also added another 82 rushing yards. However, after nearly two years away from football, Tebow was clearly a step behind the other signal-callers on the Eagles’ depth chart, and the team released him prior to the regular season.

Tebow later moved on to a new sport and joined the Mets’ farm system before retiring from baseball in February of 2021. That wasn’t a wrap on his playing career, however. In 2021, old pal Urban Meyer signed Tebow to the Jaguars’ 90-man roster as a tight end. Tebow was released midway through the preseason, bringing his pro football career to an end — we think.

This Date In Transactions History: Dolphins Acquire Junior Seau From Chargers

For a three-year stretch in the mid-2000s, the Dolphins rostered three All-Decade defenders. Eighteen years ago Friday, Miami brought in Junior Seau to start on its Jason Taylor– and Zach Thomas-led defense.

On April 16, 2003, the Dolphins finalized a trade that brought Seau over from San Diego. It took only a conditional draft choice for the Dolphins to acquire the 13-year Chargers starter, who was 34 at the time of the trade. (That pick ended up becoming a fifth-rounder in 2004, which turned into future LaDainian Tomlinson backup and Falcons Pro Bowler Michael Turner.)

The 2003 offseason brought considerable change for the Chargers, who said goodbye to Seau and Rodney Harrison. While these two would end up teammates again in New England, Seau took a three-season detour. The Dolphins brought Seau over to join a defense that had ranked fourth in 2002; it ranked third in ’03, which turned out to be Seau’s best Miami season.

A Chargers first-round pick in 1990, the San Diego native became the greatest defender in franchise history. Seau ventured to 12 straight Pro Bowls from 1991-2002 and was a first-team All-Decade performer in the 1990s. The USC alum was the best player on the Bolts’ Super Bowl XXIX team, pairing elite tackling skills with pass-rushing ability that allowed him to put together three seven-sack seasons despite not working as a pure rusher. The Chargers, however, moved in a different direction in 2003, allowing Seau to seek a trade. The Bolts paid Seau around $2MM of a $2.7MM roster bonus, which was due the day before the trade was finalized.

Seau started 15 games for the ’03 Dolphins. He posted 96 tackles (12 for loss) and three sacks that season, a 10-6 Dolphins campaign that ended with the team just missing the playoffs. However, the Dave Wannstedt-run team could not generate momentum coming out of the season. The Dolphins started 1-9 in 2004 and fired Wannstedt. Seau battled through injuries — a pectoral tear in 2004 and an Achilles malady in ’05 — and was only able to log 15 games in that span. Prior to joining the Dolphins, Seau had not missed more than three games in a season.

The Dolphins released Seau in 2006, and he retired soon after. However, the Patriots pulled him out of retirement and used him as a starter in 2006. Seau played four more seasons, becoming one of the only NFL defenders to enjoy a 20-year career, before retiring for good in 2010. Tragically, Seau died by suicide in 2012. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2015.

This Date In Transactions History: Dolphins, Panthers Make Unusual Draft Trade

The Broncos resisted trade overtures and passed on filling their longstanding quarterback need in the 2021 draft, taking Patrick Surtain II ninth overall. Surtain’s father entered the NFL 23 years earlier as part of a more complex draft strategy.

On April 16, 1998, the Dolphins made an interesting short-term-geared trade with the Panthers, dealing their 2000 first-round pick for Carolina’s 1998 second-round choice. This trade was part of a multipronged process by then-Dolphins honcho Jimmy Johnson, but the second-round selection Miami obtained ended paying off for both the Johnson and Dave Wannstedt regimes.

This trade occurred two days before the 1998 draft. On Day 1 of the then-two-day event, Miami traded its 1998 first-rounder to Green Bay by moving down 19 spots — from No. 10 to No. 29 — and picked up an additional second-round pick. While the Dolphins did not fare as well in part two of this plan, taking running back John Avery at No. 29 after the Packers chose long-term defensive end starter Vonnie Holliday at 10, they landed the top player involved in this swap in Patrick Surtain. The Dolphins used the Packers’ Round 2 pick to trade back further, but no player helped their cause like Surtain.

Chosen 44th overall in 1998, the elder Surtain helped the Dolphins craft a playoff streak that reached five seasons by the end of the 2001 campaign. The talented cornerback moved into the Dolphins’ starting lineup during the 1999 season and intercepted five passes in 2000, helping Miami to the divisional round that year.

The Dolphins won wild-card games during the first three seasons of Surtain’s career, with he and current Dolphins cornerbacks coach Sam Madison forming one of the league’s top corner tandems during this period. The duo combined for seven Pro Bowl invites and three All-Pro nods. Surtain’s All-Pro bid came in 2002. Both players signed extensions, Madison’s coming in 2000 and Surtain’s — a six-year, $27.7MM deal — coming in March 2001. Surtain spent seven seasons with the Dolphins, who traded him to the Chiefs in 2005. Holliday, whom the Chiefs cut shortly before signing Surtain, interestingly wound up in Miami as a free agent that year.

The other team involved in Miami’s initial trade did not make out well. Johnson was not around by the time the Panthers used the Dolphins’ 2000 first-round pick, having retired from coaching after the 1999 season. Carolina chose cornerback Rashard Anderson at No. 23 in 2000. The Division I-FCS product lasted just two years with Carolina, seeing a substance-abuse suspension sideline him indefinitely beginning in 2002.

This Date In Transactions History: Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey Signs Record-Breaking Deal

Today marks the two-year anniversary of Christian McCaffrey‘s four-year, $64MM extension with the Panthers. The deal included $36MM guaranteed, $30MM fully guaranteed, and made CMC the highest-paid running back in NFL history. 

[RELATED: CMC To Remain At RB]

McCaffrey and the Panthers had been discussing an extension for some time, even though the youngster was a long way from free agency. Elsewhere, the Panthers were in the midst of an overhaul, having bid farewell to head coach Ron Rivera, tight end Greg Olsen, one-time MVP quarterback Cam Newton, and other longtime figures. McCaffrey, of course, remained as a building block of the team’s future.

In September of 2019, Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott broke the RB record with a six-year, $90MM extension. CMC beat that $15MM AAV by a cool $1MM. More importantly, he landed his deal on a much shorter term. The Panthers standout would secure the bag in the near term and be able to do it all again in his prime.

Saints star Alvin Kamara would later threaten his mantle, but fall just short at $15MM per annum. McCaffrey, meanwhile, went on to play in a combined ten games over the next two seasons. That was a bummer for CMC, who had previously earned a First-Team All-Pro selection. And, even in a “down” ’19, McCaffrey still managed 1,387 rushing yards off of 287 carries for an average of 4.8 yards per tote. He also caught 116 passes for 1,005 yards through the air to finish the year with 19 total touchdowns.

The injuries even prompted the Panthers to consider a position change for their franchise RB. But, just a few weeks ago, head coach Matt Rhule confirmed that McCaffrey will remain in the backfield.

“We can always move him around and utilize him, but at the end of the day, he’s a back”, Rhule said. “You can do a lot of things with Christian, but to take him out of the backfield, to me, is taking him out of what he does best. We’ll keep him at tailback.”

As great as McCaffrey is, the Panthers’ offer was panned by many. Market-setting deals for running backs, like the four-year, $60MM deal Todd Gurley once had with the Rams, often go south. Gurley couldn’t stay healthy after putting pen to paper, and neither has CMC. At least, that’s been the case so far.

This Date In Transactions History: Packers Re-Sign TE Robert Tonyan

Three years ago today, the Packers re-upped a relatively unknown tight end on their 90-man roster. The move went unnoticed by many, but it proved to be one of the savviest pickups of the offseason. On April 10, 2019, the Packers re-signed tight end Robert Tonyan

[RELATED: Packers Pursued DeVante Parker]

The Indiana State product went undrafted in 2017, but he managed to secure a lucrative three-year, $1.66MM deal with the Lions. He didn’t end up making the regular season roster, and he spent the majority of his rookie year as a free agent before catching on with the Packers practice squad. Following that 2017 campaign, Green Bay retained the young tight end via a futures contract.

Tonyan ended up sticking the team in 2018, appearing in all 16 games. However, other than a memorable 54-yard touchdown catch, the tight end didn’t do much on the offensive end, and he ended the season having appeared more on special teams (191 snaps) than on offense (67). Still, the Packers apparently believed in his potential, as they extended him a tender as an exclusive rights free agent. That decision (and the subsequent negotiations) culminated in the minor move that was made three years ago today.

Tonyan’s 2019 campaign was similar to his 2018 season; he saw a bit more offensive responsibility, but he still didn’t put up notable numbers. Following that season, the Packers made him an exclusive rights free agent once again, and the player ultimately signed the tender.

The tight end rewarded the Packers’ confidence with a breakout season in 2020. The then-26-year-old emerged as one of Aaron Rodgers‘ favorite targets, finishing the season with 52 receptions for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns. He continued producing in the playoffs, hauling in eight catches for 82 yards and one score in two games.

Tonyan was slapped with a second-round tender last year, locking him into a $3.3MM salary for 2021. In 2021, Tonyan got off to a similar start, minus the massive red-zone impact. Unfortunately, his season was cut short by a torn ACL in a Week 8 game against the Cardinals, but the Packers believe that he’ll make a full recovery. Despite the uncertainty, Tonyan is back on a new one-year, $3.75MM deal for 2022.

This Date In Transactions History: Cowboys Release Tony Romo

Five years ago today, the Cowboys released longtime quarterback Tony Romo. At least, that’s how the official record reads. Romo — who had ceded the starting job to rookie Dak Prescott in 2016 — retired in order to begin his broadcasting career. 

“We wish Tony and his family nothing but the best,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. “As an organization, we did what he asked us to do in terms of his release, and we wanted to do what was ultimately in his best interest and in the best interest of his family. Tony has been a wonderful representative of the Cowboys organization for 14 years, and he left everything he had on the field. He will leave us with many great memories and a legacy of being, truly, one of the greatest players in Cowboys history. We are thrilled for him and his family that he will be able to continue working as a professional in the game he so dearly loves. He is a young man who is just getting started on a long journey in life. All the best my friend.”

Romo, who was on the verge of his 37th birthday, took over for Phil Simms at CBS. His health, he said, wouldn’t allow him to continue playing football. Still, even with his surgically-repaired back, the nature of his retirement led to lots of speculation. After the Cowboys granted his release, Romo was now free to sign with any team. At one point, he considered joining up with the Jets, but ultimately declined. Over the summer, Romo continued to leave the door open ever so slightly, saying that he wouldn’t rule out returning to the Cowboys in an emergency situation. That emergency call never came in though, and Romo has been in the booth ever since.

In effect, this all played out as a standard retirement. Romo didn’t leave the game exactly the way he wanted to, but he did complete a league-high 69.9% of his passes in 2014, his last full season. All in all, Romo collected four Pro Bowl nods over the course of his career in Dallas while earning upwards of $127MM in NFL earnings alone.

This Date In Transactions History: Patriots Trade Brandin Cooks To Rams

When Brandin Cooks was traded to the Patriots in 2017, there was hope that the wideout would stick around New England as one of Tom Brady‘s top targets. About 13 months later, Cooks tenure with the team had come to an end. On this date in 2018, the Patriots traded the wide receiver to the Rams. 

Cooks was plenty productive during his lone season in New England, with the wideout leading the air attack (alongside Rob Gronkowski) following Julian Edelman‘s season-ending injury. The receiver finished the regular season having hauled in 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns, and hee continued producing in the postseason, catching another 19 receptions for 292 yards.

That performance apparently wasn’t enough, as the Patriots sent him out on April 3, 2018. Perhaps the team was wary of Cooks’ impending free agency following the 2018 campaign, or perhaps they thought Brady and Bill Belichick‘s clout would land them a comparable (and/or cheaper) receiver via free agency. Either way, New England ultimately sent Cooks and a fourth-rounder to the Rams in exchange for a first-rounder (a pick that eventually turned into lineman Isaiah Wynn) and a sixth-rounder. The Rams subsequently signed the receiver to a pricey five-year, $81MM extension (including $50.5MM guaranteed).

Even though Cooks didn’t last all that long is Los Angeles, it’s hard to be too critical of the Rams. Cooks had a 1,200-yard season during his first year with the Rams, but he fell off in 2019, compiling only 635 yards from scrimmage in 14 games. Following the season, the Rams paired Cooks with a fourth-rounder and sent him to the Texans for a second-rounder (which ultimately turned into receiver Van Jefferson).

Similarly, it’s hard to be too critical of the Patriots; after all, Wynn was a fine consolation. However, the Patriots’ motivation for the trade has never really been explained. While the financial reasons were obvious, it was assumed that the organization would subsequently replace Cooks spot in the lineup. The team was also especially shallow at wideout after Danny Amendola signed with the Dolphins.

While New England would be connected to a number of receivers throughout that 2018 campaign, the team never did anything to significantly improve their receiver corps. That 2018 squad finished without a 1,000-yard receiver, with running back James White leading the squad in receptions. Per usual, that didn’t end up mattering all that much; the Patriots still won the Super Bowl that season after beating (you guessed it) the Rams. While the Patriots selected receiver N’Keal Harry in the first round of the 2019 draft, they never really added another veteran receiver like Brady desired, an issue that was exacerbated after Gronkowski’s sudden retirement. That 2019 campaign would ultimately be Brady’s final season in New England.

This Date In Transactions History: Cardinals Trade For Carson Palmer

In the years between Kurt Warner‘s retirement and Bruce Arians‘ 2013 Arizona arrival, the Cardinals experienced persistent issues at quarterback. A few months into Arians’ tenure, the franchise made a move to stabilize that position. 

Nine years ago today, the Cardinals acquired Carson Palmer from the Raiders. In the second Palmer trade in less than two years, the Raiders were not able to fetch what the Bengals did in 2011. On April 2, 2013, the Cards sent a 2013 sixth-round pick and a conditional seventh-rounder in 2014 for Palmer. Arizona immediately extended the then-33-year-old passer, signing him for two years and $16MM. That would not be the last Cardinals contract Palmer signed.

Palmer spent eight seasons with the Bengals, essentially redshirting as a rookie before starting from 2004-10. However, the former Heisman winner grew impatient with the Bengals’ conservative offseasons and staged a brief retirement that lasted well into the 2011 season. The Raiders ended the Palmer-Bengals stalemate by sending a 2012 first-round pick and a 2013 second-rounder to Cincinnati in October 2011. Those picks became Dre Kirkpatrick and Giovani Bernard. While Palmer mostly stayed healthy in Oakland, the Raiders went just 8-16 during the Pro Bowler’s starts in silver and black.

The USC product threw for 4,018 yards, with 22 touchdown passes compared to 14 interceptions in 2012, but went 4-11 as a starter that season. Oakland parted ways with Hue Jackson, their head coach in 2011, and hired Dennis Allen in 2012. The Raiders made an unusual pivot in 2013, using Terrelle Pryor as their primary starting QB — with Matt McGloin mixing in — but acquired Derek Carr in the 2014 second round. Interestingly, the conditional seventh-round pick the Raiders acquired in the Palmer deal turned into defensive lineman Shelby Harris, who played eight games in Oakland before catching on as a regular in Denver.

The Cardinals, who went 5-11 in 2012 and had used John Skelton as their primary post-Warner QB, improved immediately. Palmer started 16 games and guided Arizona to a 10-6 record in 2013. He went 6-0 as Arizona’s starter in 2014, but the second ACL tear of his career harpooned a talented Cardinals squad — one that also lost backup Drew Stanton and ended up starting Ryan Lindley in its wild-card playoff outing. In 2015, Palmer rebounded and finished second in the MVP voting. The then-35-year-old quarterback threw a Cards-record 35 touchdown passes and led the NFL with 8.7 yards per attempt, guiding the team to a 13-3 record and an overtime playoff victory over the Packers.

Injuries ended up limiting Palmer again in 2017, and he retired shortly after that season. This came after Palmer signed a three-year, $49.5MM contract — in 2014, days before his second ACL tear as a pro — and a one-year, $24.4MM extension in 2016. While the Cardinals traded up for Josh Rosen months after Palmer’s exit, they reversed course a year later and drafted Kyler Murray first overall.