This Date In Transactions History

This Date In Transactions History: Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas Sign Extensions

With the deadline looming for extension-eligible players, two of the league’s top wideouts signed lucrative extensions with their organizations on this day eight years ago. On July 15, 2015, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas signed new deals with their squads.

The two 2010 first-round WRs were slapped with the franchise tag before they could hit unrestricted free agency, and negotiations with their respective teams hadn’t necessarily gone smoothly. In fact, the NFL Players Association threatened to file a collusion complaint against the Cowboys and Broncos over the lack of extension progress, and both Bryant and Thomas began teased holdouts as the July 15 deadline approached.

Ultimately, both players ended up getting their desired pacts from their new squads, with the duo seeking deals that approached Calvin Johnson‘s $16.21MM average annual salary. Bryant and Thomas ultimately signed similar five-year, $70MM deals; the two players were previously attached to franchise tags worth $12.8MM.

At that point of his career, Bryant had established himself as one of the league’s elite wideouts. At the time of his signing, Bryant hadn’t missed a game in three seasons, and he was coming off his third-straight campaign with at least 88 catches and 12 touchdowns. He took it to another level during his contract year, hauling in a career-high 16 touchdowns while tying a career-best 15.0 yards-per-catch mark.

Unfortunately for the receiver and the Cowboys, that 2014 campaign that preceded his extension was the last time Bryant would earn an All-Pro selection in his career. His 2015 season was limited to only eight games while he dealt with a lingering foot injury, although he did return to Pro Bowl status in 2016 after finishing with 50 catches and eight touchdowns in 13 games. Bryant managed to revert to his durable self during the 2017 season, appearing in all 16 games. However, his 12.1 yards-per-reception mark set a new career-low, and with two years remaining on his deal, the Cowboys moved on from the wideout.

Bryant joined the Saints for the 2018 season, but he ended up missing the year thanks to a torn Achilles. He sat out the 2019 season while seeking a new job before catching on with the Ravens in 2020. He caught six passes in six games for Baltimore, and he hasn’t earned an NFL contract since that gig.

The Broncos got a bit more production out of their extension with Thomas. Prior to signing his new deal, the receiver was coming off a three-year stretch where he averaged 99 receptions, 1,494 receiving yards, and close to 12 touchdowns per season (he added another five scores in five playoff games). While Thomas would never hit those numbers again, his first season under his new deal was still plenty productive. The wideout finished the year with 1,304 receiving yards and six touchdowns before earning his lone Super Bowl championship.

Thomas would only have one more 1,000-yard season after 2015. Despite losing Peyton Manning under center for the 2016 season, the receiver still earned a Pro Bowl nod after compiling 1,083 yards. Inconsistent QB play led to Thomas finishing with only 949 receiving yards in 2017, and with the Broncos eyeing a rebuild in 2018, Thomas was traded to the Texans. Following a brief stint with the Patriots during the 2019 preseason, Thomas caught on with the Jets, hauling in 36 receptions in 11 games. After not playing during the 2020 season, Thomas announced his retirement.

Teams are naturally cautious when it comes to handing out big-money extensions. You can’t blame the Cowboys nor the Broncos for extending their star wideouts, but it also shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise that neither player ended up completing their deals with their respective teams.

This Date In Transactions History: Broncos Extend LT Ryan Clady

Mid-July annually features extension talks ramping up, particularly for a small group of players. With the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions looming July 15 in most years (or around that date if July 15 falls on a weekend, as it does this year), dozens of extensions in the tag era (1993-present) have been completed around this point.

One of them came 10 years ago today. On July 14, 2013, the Broncos and cornerstone left tackle Ryan Clady agreed to terms on a five-year deal worth $52.5MM. The Broncos had tagged Clady earlier that year, keeping Peyton Manning‘s blindside protector off the market for $9.83MM. Illustrating where the salary cap has taken tag values, it would have cost a team $18.24MM to tag an offensive lineman this year.

Clady’s peak reached as high as just about any offensive lineman in Broncos history. Only he and stalwart center Tom Nalen earned two first-team All-Pro nods as Broncos. Denver used its 2008 first-round pick on Clady, who excelled at Boise State, and immediately plugged him in as Jay Cutler‘s blindside protector. (Clady earned second-team All-Pro honors as a rookie and finished third in that year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year voting.)

The franchise abruptly changed course at quarterback upon hiring Josh McDaniels as head coach a year later, leading to the team trading Cutler to the Bears. But Clady earned first-team All-Pro acclaim for his work as Kyle Orton‘s left tackle. Clady suffered a patellar tendon tear suffered while playing basketball during the 2010 offseason, moving him off the Pro Bowl level in 2010, but he rebounded to help the Broncos make a surprise playoff run after changing their offense to suit Tim Tebow‘s skillset the following year.

After returning to the Pro Bowl level in 2011, Clady notched his second All-Pro honor during Manning’s first season in Colorado. With Manning signed to a five-year, $96MM deal, the Broncos made sure to keep his top O-lineman off the market via the tag. Negotiations ramped up just before the tag deadline, and the sides reached an agreement on a deal that made Clady the third-highest-paid tackle — behind Jason Peters and Joe Thomas — at the time.

Denver’s deal came with $33MM guaranteed, and two more All-Pro selections would have bumped the value to $57.5MM. While the contract gave the talented blocker security, injuries soon caught up with Clady. After Clady suffered a shoulder malady late in the 2012 season, he sustained a season-ending Lisfranc injury in Week 2 of the 2013 season. Although Clady came back in 2014 and collected his fourth Pro Bowl honor, he suffered an ACL tear in May 2015. Clady collected a Super Bowl ring as a member of that Broncos team, but he did not play a down that season.

The Broncos, who had plugged in Chris Clark as their LT replacement during their Super Bowl XLVIII-qualifying season, primarily used Ryan Harris as their left tackle during their Super Bowl-winning year two seasons later. The team traded Clady to the Jets in April 2016. After Clady — the Jets’ D’Brickashaw Ferguson successor — wound up on IR in November 2016, he opted to retire during the 2017 offseason. The Broncos used Russell Okung as a one-year stopgap in 2016 before drafting Garett Bolles in the 2017 first round. Bolles is currently tied to a four-year, $68MM extension.

This Date In Transactions History: Michael Irvin Retires

Following a scary sight in Philadelphia during the 1999 season, Michael Irvin opted not to risk his health by attempting to return from a severe injury. The superstar Cowboys wide receiver instead called it quits during the 2000 offseason.

A central component in the Cowboys’ 1990s dynasty, Irvin was in his 12th NFL season when he suffered a spine injury at Veterans Stadium in October 1999. Cervical spinal stenosis became Irvin’s official diagnosis. Irvin, 34 at the time of his retirement, was temporarily paralyzed after hauling in a short pass from Troy Aikman. During the 2000 offseason, doctors had advised Irvin to walk away due to the risk a return posed.

I like to think of myself as a warrior. I wanted to be dragged off the field, and I was,” Irvin said at the time. “… If I said there wasn’t serious thought [of coming back], I’d be lying to you. I tried to rationalize it: ‘Any hit can be your last hit. You’ve been doing that all you’re life.’ But I’ve accomplished a great deal of things that I wanted to accomplish and at this juncture there’s no need to risk it and go on.”

The decision brought an end to one of the best careers in Cowboys history. The first of Dallas’ famed “Triplets” to debut in the pros — a year before Aikman and two years before Emmitt Smith — Irvin joined the Cowboys after a much-discussed career at the University of Miami. In Tom Landry‘s final year as Cowboys head coach (1988), the team used its No. 11 overall pick on Irvin, who was reunited with his college HC — Jimmy Johnson — a year later. Irvin went on to become one of his era’s best wide receivers.

When Irvin was stretchered off the turf in Philly 24 years ago, his reception and receiving yardage totals (750 and 11,904) each ranked ninth in NFL history. Illustrating the pass-crazed nature of today’s game, those numbers have dropped to 44th and 29th, respectively. But Irvin earned a spot on the 1990s’ All-Decade team. His retirement also came five years after another of Jerry Rice‘s top contemporaries, Sterling Sharpe, left the game early due to a neck injury.

After leading the NFL in receiving during a breakout 1991 season — the Cowboys’ first playoff berth of the Johnson era — Irvin staged a holdout with the goal of becoming the league’s second-highest-paid receiver (behind Rice). A three-year, $3.75MM contract kept Irvin in uniform ahead of the 1992 season, a rather important year in Cowboys history. Dallas won the first of its three Super Bowls that season; the 6-foot-2 wideout caught two touchdown passes in the team’s 52-17 win over the Bills. Irvin made the Pro Bowl each year from 1991-95, with the final two seasons coming after the infamous Johnson-Jerry Jones split. The Cowboys gave their top aerial threat a raise (five years, $15MM) during the ’95 offseason. At the time, that contract was the richest in wide receiver history.

A drug arrest led to Irvin being suspended for the first five games of the 1996 season; the rangy receiver still led the NFL with 87.5 yards per game upon return. “The Playmaker” tacked on two more 1,000-yard years in his final two full seasons, en route to Hall of Fame induction in 2007.

This Date In Transactions History: Raiders In Contract Dispute With Rookie RB

Josh Jacobs and the Raiders are currently engaged in a stare down regarding the running back’s next contract. Interesting, this isn’t the first time Jacobs and his camp have been embroiled in a contract dispute with the organization.

[RELATED: Raiders’ Josh Jacobs Could Sit Out Week 1?]

On this date in 2019, we learned that negotiations weren’t progressing between the Raiders and their rookie running back. In fact, things were so bad, there was growing belief that Jacobs would not report for the start of training camp.

This kind of threat was almost unheard of following the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, with rookie contracts and signing bonuses being mostly predetermined. So, while Jacobs was the team’s only unsigned draft pick at this point of the offseason, it was assumed that negotiations weren’t contentious and would be finalized eventually.

While some first-year players pushed for changes to the offset language in their rookie contracts, Jacobs was actually looking for changes to the payment schedule of his signing bonus. As our own Rory Parks pointed out at the time, teams don’t have to pay the full amount of a bonus upfront and can instead pay in installments. If the player suffers a non-football injury, the team can then withhold or even recover part of that signing bonus. While the running back surely wasn’t counting on an NFI stint, it made sense that he was looking to cash in as soon as possible.

Ultimately, Jacobs ended up signing his four-year, $11.9MM contract (not including a fifth-year option). The signing came three weeks after the organization inked their other two first-round picks, Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram.

The rookie quickly showed off his first-round pedigree, finishing second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting after finishing with 1,316 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns. He topped 1,300 yards again in 2020, this time adding 12 touchdowns.

His counting stats took a step back in 2021, and with a new regime at the helm, the Raiders didn’t pick up Jacobs’ fifth-year options. As an impending free agent, the running back proceeded to have the most productive season of his career in 2022, finishing with 2,053 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. The Raiders slapped Jacobs with the franchise tag following the season.

Despite the production, the Raiders and Jacobs still haven’t been able to agree on a long-term extension, with the two sides having until July 17 to negotiate a new contract. Throughout the ordeal, Jacobs has talked of taking a stance for future running backs, and he’s also hinted at “bad business” coming from the Raiders organization.

Even with the looming deadline, Jacobs is still threatening to sit out games in 2023 if he’s not signed to an extension. In that scenario, Jacobs still wouldn’t get his wish of a new deal, and he’d be sacrificing game checks once the regular season starts. Still, you clearly can’t put it past the running back to hold out, even if there’s little financial incentive when all is said and done. We can just point to the RB’s contract dispute with the organization back in 2019, and while Dave Ziegler has since replaced Mike Mayock as the Raiders GM, the front office is surely aware of who they’re dealing with.

This Date In Transactions History: Chiefs Fire John Dorsey, Extend Andy Reid

On the same day the Chiefs committed to their head coach, they let go of their general manager. On June 22, 2017, the Chiefs extended head coach Andy Reid before firing general manager John Dorsey.

The Chiefs brought in both Reid and Dorsey during the 2013 offseason, reuniting the two after they previously worked alongside each other in Green Bay. The duo was simply looking to return Kansas City to the postseason for just the second time in seven years, and they succeeded right away, with the Chiefs going 11-5 during the 2013 campaign.

The team was consistent over the following three seasons, earning two more playoff appearances while averaging more than 10 wins per season. It appeared it was going to be status quo for the 2017 campaign, although this time, Dorsey and the Chiefs showed a willingness to consider a post-Alex Smith era when they traded up for Patrick Mahomes at the 10th-overall pick. The Chiefs made a few more significant moves (including signing Eric Berry to a hefty extension) before they made the sudden decision to move off of their GM.

“I notified John that we would not be extending his contract beyond the 2017 season, and after consideration, we felt it was in his best interests and the best interests of the team to part ways now,” CEO Clark Hunt said at the time. “This decision, while a difficult one, allows John to pursue other opportunities as we continue our preparations for the upcoming season and the seasons to come. My family and I sincerely appreciate John’s work over the last four-and-a-half years, and we wish him nothing but the best in the future.”

This was an especially surprising development considering the organization announced that they had extended Reid earlier that day.

My family and I have been very pleased by the success the franchise has sustained over the last four seasons under Coach Reid,” Hunt said. “He has already established himself as one of the best coaches in the league, and he is well on his way to solidifying a place among the all-time greats. We are proud to have him leading our football team, and I look forward to working with him to bring a championship to Chiefs Kingdom.”

It was never made clear why Reid was afforded a longer leash than Dorsey, but following the firing, we learned that the GM didn’t have many fans thanks to his management style and salary cap mismanagement. His cap issues ultimately led to the ouster of several fan favorites, including Jamaal Charles and Derrick Johnson.

Six years later, we can confidently say the Chiefs were right to commit to their head coach. The team eventually took off with Mahomes under center, and the organization has since won two of their three Super Bowl appearances. Reid earned another extension with the organization in 2020.

Things are a bit more complicated when it comes to Dorsey. Brett Veach has guided the Chiefs to two championships as general manager, but Dorsey has earned some praise for his contributions to the eventual Super Bowl champs (especially his selection of Mahomes). Of course, those Super Bowls don’t show up on the executive’s resume; what does show up is his underwhelming two-year stint in Cleveland. He joined the Browns less than a year after his Kansas City firing, and despite having some key draft selections (including the first-overall pick) and some major veteran acquisitions (including Odell Beckham Jr.), Cleveland only went 13-18-1 with Dorsey at the helm.

Thanks to the value of hindsight, we know that the Chiefs undoubtedly made the correct decision on this day six years ago. However, it’s fair to wonder if retaining Dorsey would have drastically altered this team’s future Super Bowl chances.

This Date In Transactions History: Patriots Sign Tim Tebow

Bill Belichick has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to roster machinations, but he raised a few eyebrows when he made a surprise signing on this date in 2013. On the eve of mandatory minicamp that year, Tebowmania made its way to Foxborough when the Patriots signed quarterback Tim Tebow.

At that point of his career, Tebow wasn’t far removed from his standout 2011 campaign. That year, Tebow went 7-4 in his 11 starts with the Broncos, and he even helped guide Denver to a playoff win. Of course, there were still plenty of pundits who questioned if Tebow could actually succeed as a starting NFL quarterback. Despite the solid record as a starter, Tebow only completed 46.5 percent of his passes that season, but he predictably showed much more promise on the ground, where he ran for 660 yards and six scores.

The Broncos decided to go all-in for the 2012 campaign, adding Peyton Manning to the mix. Tebow was ultimately shipped off to the Jets, where he started two games while mostly serving as a backup and wildcat alternative to Mark Sanchez. Tebow was cut by New York the following April.

The market wasn’t all that hot for Tebow, leading to him remaining unsigned for a couple of months. Then, the Patriots made the sudden signing on June 10, 2013. While the transaction certainly took many by surprise, it made some sense. For starters, the move reunited the QB with Josh McDaniels, who Tebow had his most NFL success under when the two were in Denver.

Secondly, there wouldn’t be any pressure for Tebow to play a major role in New England; he was never going to supplant Tom Brady, and most reporters opined that he would likely slide in third on the depth chart behind Ryan Mallett. The Patriots have been known to get creative with some of their personnel, so beyond serving as a back-of-the-depth-chart, wildcard option, there was some hope that the organization would try him out at some skill positions.

Finally, the stingy Patriots didn’t need to make any financial commitment to Tebow, which perhaps played a role in them tolerating the media circus that accompanied. While Tebow technically inked a two-year contract with the organization, it contained no guaranteed money and was mostly based on playing-time incentives.

Tebow’s stint in New England didn’t end up lasting all that long. He got into a pair of preseason games for the Patriots, with his 36.7 percent completion rate ranking last among all qualifying players. He was picked off twice and sacked a number of times, although he did manage to shake loose for 91 rushing yards on 16 attempts.

“It’s not just one game [that matters],” Belichick said following Tebow’s underwhelming preseason finale (via ESPN), “although every game is important. But the body of work, the camp, the rate of improvement, the ability to do the things that players are going to be asked to do at their respective positions [also matters].”

Whatever Tebow was showing Belichick off the field, it wasn’t enough to keep his job. Tebow was among the Patriots’ final cuts during the preseason, with the QB tweeting that he would “remain in relentless pursuit of continuing [his] lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback.”

The Patriots rolled forward with only two QBs on the roster for the 2013 campaign, and Brady ended up taking every snap at the position that season. While the Tebow signing is ultimately just a footnote in the story of the Brady/Belichick Patriots, the signing may have given us a clue that the organization was considering future options at QB outside of Mallett, a former third-round pick. Indeed, during the 2014 NFL Draft, the Patriots ended up selecting Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round.

As for Tebow, the signal-caller would get a few more NFL opportunities before all was said and done. He spent the 2015 preseason with the Eagles, and during the 2021 preseason, he caught on with Urban Meyer as a tight end in Jacksonville. Still, he hasn’t seen the field since 2012.

This Date In Transactions History: Browns Extend TE David Njoku

It can always be a bit risky paying big money on tight ends, especially when the player hasn’t even shown Pro Bowl-worthy production. So, when the Browns signed David Njoku to an extension on this day in 2022, it certainly raised a few eyebrows. Fortunately for the Browns, they shouldn’t have any regrets with exactly one year to reflect on the move.

On May 27, 2022, the Browns announced that they inked their former first-round tight end to an extension. Njoku had already been slapped with the franchise tag, ensuring at least a hefty payday for the 2022 campaign. Instead, the organization ripped up that tender and signed Njoku to a four-year, $56.75MM deal with $28MM in guaranteed money. The extension put the player fifth at the position in terms of average annual value, and while he’s since been passed by Darren Waller‘s record-breaking deal, Njoku still represents one of the largest tight end contracts in the NFL.

Njoku had an inconsistent role during his rookie season but showed his potential during the 2018 campaign, finishing with 56 receptions for 639 yards and four touchdowns. The next two years didn’t go all that great for the tight end; his 2019 season was limited to only four games while he recovered from a broken wrist, and he started only five of his 13 appearances in 2020 while dealing with a knee injury.

He rebounded a bit in 2021, finishing with 36 catches for 475 yards and four touchdowns. While that production probably doesn’t warrant a $50MM+ contract, a pair of moves made it appear that Njoku was on the brink of a breakout season, perhaps justifying the organization’s investment. For starters, the Browns moved on from Austin Hooper, a transaction that finally made Njoku the undisputed starter. Second, the front office made the franchise-altering trade for Deshaun Watson, and considering Cleveland’s lack of experienced receiving options, Njoku would surely become one of the QB’s preferred targets.

Watson, of course, was limited to only six games while serving a suspension, but Njoku still managed to put together one of his most productive seasons since that aforementioned sophomore campaign. The 26-year-old ultimately finished his 2022 season having hauled in 58 catches for 628 yards and four touchdowns. Sure, those numbers are still a far cry from the numbers put up by the other highest-paid tight ends (a grouping that includes Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Dallas Goedert, George Kittle, and Waller). However, considering Njoku’s age and modest production, it makes sense that he’d be right below that grouping and above the likes of Dawson Knox, Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Evan Engram, and Zach Ertz.

The Browns will surely be hoping for even more for Njoku in 2023. If the tight end is able to put together a career year during his seventh season in the NFL, his extension may end up looking like a bargain.

This Date In Transactions History: Nathaniel Hackett Joins Jaguars Staff

Nathaniel Hackett was once again in the news this week when the Jets announced that they hired him as their new offensive coordinator. The coach was also in the news eight years ago today when he surprised many by joining the Jaguars’ staff.

[RELATED: Jets Hire Nathaniel Hackett As OC]

Besides quality control roles with the Buccaneers and Bills, Hackett mostly cut his teeth in collegiate football, culminating in him becoming Syracuse’s offensive coordinator. It was there that Hackett developed a strong relationship with Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone.

When Marrone was hired as the Bills’ head coach, he brought along Hackett to serve as his offensive coordinator. During his time in Buffalo, Hackett proved that he was able to run a competent running offense. However, thanks in part to the limitations of quarterbacks EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis, and Jeff Tuel, the passing offense struggled. Kyle Orton made the unit more respectable during the 2014 campaign, but it wasn’t enough to prevent changes in Buffalo.

Marrone decided to head to the Jaguars as their assistant head coach for the 2015 season. This left Buffalo’s staff without a secure gig moving forward, but it sounded like Hackett was going to land on his feet relatively quickly. The coach emerged as a favorite for the Rams offensive coordinator gig; this was partly due to his pedigree but was also due to St. Louis missing out on some of their top targets.

However, instead of taking the Rams job, Hackett surprised many when he revealed on January 28, 2015 that he’d be heading to Jacksonville with Marrone. Hackett was named the Jaguars quarterbacks coach, a role he held for a year-plus. Marrone found himself as interim head coach following the firing of Gus Bradley in 2016, and Hackett was promoted to OC when Greg Olson also earned his walking papers. During Hackett’s first full season as offensive coordinator in 2017, the Jaguars offense surprisingly emerged as one of the top units in the NFL with quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Leonard Fournette leading the way. That offense regressed in 2018, and Marrone surprised many when he fired Hackett following a 3-8 start to the year.

Hackett once again landed on his feet. The following offseason, he was hired as offensive coordinator in Green Bay. The Packers were the best offense in 2020, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers won back-to-back MVPs with Hackett at the helm. Thanks to his performance, Hackett finally got his chance to become a head coach when he was hired by the Broncos last offseason.

We all know how that went. The Broncos were perhaps the biggest disappointment of the 2022 season, and Hackett was canned before he was able to complete his first season as head coach. While the coach clearly lost some of his shine during the 2022 campaign, it didn’t stop him from finding a new gig. Earlier this week, the Jets announced that they hired Hackett as their new offensive coordinator.

Hackett truly made a name for himself when he took a surprising Jaguars offense to the AFC Championship in 2017. Had Hackett instead decided to take the St. Louis job (vs. taking the Jacksonville gig on this date in 2015), his career could look a whole lot different than it does today.

This Date In Transactions History: Raiders Sign TE Darren Waller Off Ravens Practice Squad

Thanks to hindsight, we’ll occasionally find that some of the NFL’s best transactions initially went under the radar. That was the case on this date in 2018, when the Raiders signed a little-known tight end/wide receiver off the Ravens’ practice squad. Fast forward to today, and that tight end is one of the highest-paid players at his position.

On November 26, 2018, the Raiders added tight end Darren Waller off the Ravens’ practice squad.

The 2015 sixth-round pick didn’t make a whole lot of noise during his first three-plus seasons in the NFL. Baltimore initially had Waller playing as a wide receiver, and the Georgia Tech product had 12 receptions through his first two years in the league. After being slapped with a four-game suspension in 2016, Waller was hit with a full-season ban in 2017 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

That suspension proved to be the nail in the coffin for the wideout/tight end in Baltimore. After sitting out the 2017 campaign, he was cut at the end of the 2018 preseason. He later caught on with Baltimore’s practice squad, which where he spent the first chunk of the season. With rookies Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews and veteran Maxx Williams firmly above Waller on the depth chart, it didn’t seem like the now-pass-catching TE had much of a future in Baltimore.

Then, on November 26, the Raiders came calling. The Raiders didn’t necessarily need a TE but believed in Waller’s pass-catching ability and immediately gave him a spot on the active roster. The tight end has six catches in four games while playing behind Pro Bowler Jared Cook.

The organization’s gamble worked out. Waller exploded in 2019 with Cook out of the picture, finishing the campaign with 90 receptions for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns. He followed that up with an even better season in 2020, as Waller earned his first Pro Bowl nod after finishing with 107 catches for 1,196 yards and nine scores. 2021 was a bit of a disappointment for the tight end; he was limited to only 11 games while hauling in 55 catches for 665 yards.

Still, the Raiders were clearly convinced that Waller’s 2019/2020 performances were sustainable, and they inked him to a three-year, $51MM extension this past offseason, making him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL in terms of average annual value. The 30-year-old is currently on injured reserve, and in five games this year, he’s collected only 16 catches. Considering the mounting absences and declining production, there have been some whispers that the Raiders are growing frustrated with the star.

Still, even if the Raiders grow to regret the extension they gave to Waller, there’s no denying the brilliance of the move they made on this date four years ago today.

This Date In Transactions History: Browns Trade WR Josh Gordon To Patriots

On this date in 2018, the Josh Gordon saga ended in Cleveland. Following six-plus years of controversy, the Browns shipped the embattled wideout to the Patriots for a fifth-round pick.

A second-round pick in the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft, Gordon quickly made a name for himself in Cleveland. Following a productive rookie campaign, the receiver exploded in 2013. Despite missing the first two games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, Gordon finished the year with 87 receptions for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns, earning him first-team All-Pro honors.

Gordon was slapped with another suspension prior to the 2014 campaign, but the ban was reduced to 10 games and the receiver proceeded to average about 61 yards per game in his five appearances. The NFL laid down the hammer the following offseason, suspending Gordon for the entire 2015 campaign. He was set to return after sitting out the first four games of the 2016 campaign, but he ended up stepping away from the NFL for the entire season.

He was finally reinstated late during the 2017 campaign, and after spending two years away from the game, Gordon finished with 335 receiving yards in five contests. There was hope that he’d emerge as a main piece in Cleveland’s offense for the 2018 campaign, but he quickly found himself in the dog house. While the organization publicly stated they were frustrated with Gordon’s hamstring injury, some in the Browns’ organization reportedly believed Gordon slipped in his recovery program, and it was his rampant off-field issues that finally prompted the Browns to cut the cord.

The Browns later indicated that they were prepared to cut the wideout, but a trade market naturally developed. Cleveland preferred to send Gordon to the NFC, with Dallas, Washington, and San Francisco emerging as potential suitors. While the Browns were seeking a sixth-round pick, New England ponied by a fifth rounder and acquired the receiver on September 17, 2018.

It was a low-risk move for a Patriots team that had previously gambled on reclamation projects, and it was assumed the wideout would have the shortest of leashes with Bill Belichick in charge. From an on-field perspective, the Patriots were in desperate need of receivers. With Julian Edelman sitting out the first four games due to a suspension, Tom Brady was eyeing Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett as his top wideouts. Gordon immediately came in and produced, finishing with 40 receptions for 720 yards and three touchdowns.

Gordon once again stepped away from the NFL towards the end of that season, with the NFL later revealing that he was facing an indefinite ban for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement. The Patriots proceeded to move on and win the Super Bowl without Gordon’s services.

The wideout returned for the 2019 season, and he started each of the Patriots first six games, collecting 20 receptions for 287 yards and one touchdown. A knee injury landed him on IR, and the Patriots ended up cutting bait with him in October. He later caught on with the Seahawks, but he hauled in only seven receptions in five games before getting hit with his fifth career suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Gordon sat out the entire 2020 campaign before reemerging with the Chiefs last year, where he got into 12 games. He signed with the Titans practice squad earlier this month.

There was hope that Gordon may be able to revive his career in New England. While the receiver showed that he could still be productive when he was on the field, he also continued to prove that he couldn’t be counted on from an off-field perspective. Four years later, the 31-year-old is currently fighting to keep his career alive.