Trae Waynes

Vikings Receiving Calls On Veterans

It could be a busy day in Minnesota. SI.com’s Albert Breer tweets that the organization has received calls on three veterans: tight end Kyle Rudolph and cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. Breer notes that while the organization is not “actively shopping” the trio, they’d be open to trades for their expensive veterans.

Breer had mentioned earlier this week that the Vikings could be willing to talk trade. Rudolph is a natural trade candidate, as the tight end is set to earn $7.28MM in the final year of his contract. The organization also selected Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. with their second-round pick, which naturally added some competition to the position. General manager Rick Spielman said the two players can play different roles on offense, with ESPN’s Courtney Cronin suggesting the offense could replicate Philly, where Zach Ertz and Trey Burton coexisted. The 29-year-old Rudolph had another productive season in 2018, hauling in 64 receptions for 634 yards and four scores.

Waynes is also a natural trade candidate, as the cornerback will be playing on a fully-guaranteed fifth-year option salary of $9.07MM. The former first-rounded has spent his entire career in Minnesota, including a 2018 campaign where he finished with 44 tackles, eight passes defended, and one interception.

As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com points out, trading Rhodes could be a bit more complicated. His $10.4MM salary is fully-guaranteed, and a trade would subsequently trigger a $7.2MM cap charge. At this point of the offseason, it could be difficult for an inquiring team to fit the 28-year-old into their books. On the flip side, a trade would help the Vikings financially; the team would save $6.14MM in cap space by trading the defensive back. Rhodes finished last season with 47 tackles, nine passes defended, and one interception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Breer’s Latest: Jets, Broncos, Rudolph

Some assorted notes from SI.com’s Albert Breer leading up to tonight’s draft…

  • The Jets are beginning to gain some traction on a deal involving the third-overall pick. Breer mentions that the Redskins could be a match, with the team presumably eyeing a quarterback. Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins could be an option, as could Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (if he isn’t taken with the first-overall pick). Breer notes that if the Jets remain in the top-10, they could opt for Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who one scout described as “the epitome of a [defensive coordinator] Gregg Williams player.”
  • Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is “rising continuously in draft meetings” among the Broncos front office. The team could be eyeing him with pick No. 10, or they could be preparing for a scenario where Lock falls towards the bottom of the first round.
  • After paying Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter, the Vikings could be looking to deal one of their other pricey veterans. Tight end Kyle Rudolph could be a trade candidate, and Breer writes that he wouldn’t be shocked if the Patriots make a play for the pass-catcher. The writer mentions cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes as well as wideout Laquon Treadwell as trade candidates.
  • Two players who are set to play on their fifth-year option are on the block. Breer writes that Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor and 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead “have been part of trade discussions.” On the flip side, Breer believes that it’s unlikely that the 49ers trade defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.
  • If Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat gets past the Redskins (No. 15), Panthers (No. 16), or Seahawks (No.21), Breer is unsure how far the defensive end could end up falling. Breer points to the Rams as a potential fit at the end of the first round. Reports indicated that Sweat was diagnosed with a heart condition, although there were rumblings today that he may have been misdiagnosed.

Vikings Receiving Trade Interest On CB Trae Waynes

The Vikings are fielding calls from clubs with interest in trading for cornerback Trae Waynes, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Waynes is scheduled to earn $9.069MM in 2019 under the terms of his fifth-year option. Now that he’s made it to the 2019 league year while still on the Vikings’ roster, Waynes will see that total become fully guaranteed. As such, he’s in no danger of being released, but it seems possible that could be dealt.

Waynes, the 11th overall pick in the 2015 draft, has become a full-time starter over the past two seasons, but it’s difficult to say he’s lived up to his draft billing. However, he’s been a serviceable corner, and Pro Football Focus graded him as the No. 49 CB among 112 qualifiers last year. Football Outsiders charted Waynes as 27th in success rate and 37th in yards allowed per pass attempt.

Speculatively, Minnesota may believe it can reap draft pick compensation in a year in which the free agent market isn’t exactly overloaded with available options (Justin Coleman has secured the largest free agent total at $36MM). Additionally, the 2019 draft isn’t believed to be full of top-end cornerback talent, so Waynes should hold some appeal around the NFL.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Howard, Vikings, Packers

Although Jordan Howard matched his career high with nine rushing touchdowns last season, his overall and per-carry yardage numbers continued to decline. The Bears‘ starting running back failed to eclipse 1,000 yards for the first time and averaged 3.7 per tote, as Tarik Cohen gained a bigger foothold in Matt Nagy‘s offense. Howard did not make progress as a receiving back, either, in his third year. The Bears are indeed shopping Howard at the Combine, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. One season remains on the former fifth-round pick’s rookie contract.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • Also being dangled for a trade, per JLC: Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes. One of three first-round picks in Minnesota’s corner corps, Waynes has been a two-year starter. But he is going into his fifth-year option season, which will cost the Vikings just more than $9MM. With Kirk Cousins‘ fully guaranteed contract on their books, along with several recently extended homegrown talents, the Vikings are up against the cap, holding barely $7MM.
  • One place the Vikings may need funding for is their offensive line. Guard starter Nick Easton missed all of last season, hurting an already embattled unit, and is slated for unrestricted free agency. Rick Spielman said (via the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer) Easton should be medically cleared to resume his career soon. Easton underwent surgery to address a herniated disk in his neck. Easton also fractured his ankle in December 2017, so he may have to settle for a one-year deal somewhere.
  • Brian Gutekunst confirmed what we heard recently: Jimmy Graham will have a second chance to make an impact with the Packers. A possible cap casualty, Graham is in line to come back, per Gutekunst (via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky). When asked Wednesday about Graham, Matt LaFleur was not yet sure the 32-year-old is the type of tight end that can create matchup problems at this point in his career, adding the caveat of not being in Green Bay last year to observe the physical issues with which Graham dealt.
  • Gutekunst was non-committal about Nick Perry‘s future with the team. Indicating the veteran outside linebacker has been productive when on the field, the second-year Packers GM said a decision has not been made on this front. “Nick’s struggled through some injuries,” Gutekunst said. “It’s been unfortunate. When he’s been out there, he’s been a good player for us. We’ll make those decisions as they come.” It would not be financially advantageous for the Packers to cut Perry. The cap savings would barely exceed $3MM, while the dead-money figure would surpass $11MM. Three years remain on the contract Perry signed in 2017. Perry played in nine games last season and 12 in 2017. He registered just 1.5 sacks last season.

Vikings Pick Up Trae Waynes’ Option

On Monday, the Vikings made an easy call. The fifth-year option for cornerback Trae Waynes has been exercised, according to a team announcement. 

As the No. 11 pick in the 2015 draft, Waynes will earn $9.069MM in 2019. As shown on PFR’s Fifth-Year Option Tracker, many of the first-round picks from that class have already had the extra season tacked on to their contracts. Teams have until Thursday to make determinations on the remaining players.

Waynes started in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year. He tallied 65 total tackles, two interceptions, eleven passes defensed, and his first career sack.

Waynes will return as the team’s CB2 alongside First-Team All-Pro Xavier Rhodes. The Vikings will also get cornerback Mike Hughes involved after selecting the UCF product with a late first-round choice.

The bar is set high in Minnesota after the team finished out as the league’s No. 1 defense in 2017, but the unit looks as fierce as ever thanks to the addition of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Community Tailgate: Who Will Win DROY?

We’re still a few weeks away from the start of regular-season battles on the NFL gridiron, but there’s no offseason when it comes to debate amongst fans. This summer, we launched a new series here at PFR known as the Community Tailgate. What’s the Community Tailgate all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. Every weekday, we’ll highlight one of the top stories going on in the NFL. Then, in the comment section below, we want you to weigh in and let us know what you think.

Of course, while the debate may get spirited, we ask that it all stays respectful. If you need a reminder of our rules, please check out our commenting policy. Basically, we ask that you refrain from inappropriate language, personal insults, and attacks. Speaking of commenting: we’ve made it much easier to leave a comment here at Pro Football Rumors. You are no longer required to be a registered user – simply put in your name, email address, and comment and submit.

Yesterday, we asked you to take your pick on who will be this year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Today, in the interest of equal time, we want to know who you think will be this year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Any list of DROY contenders has to have Jets rookie Leonard Williams near the top. The USC defensive lineman was touted by some as the top talent in this year’s class but thanks in part to the team needs at the top of the draft, the Jets managed to snag him with the No. 6 overall pick. At 6’5″ and 300+ pounds, Williams offers tremendous athleticism for his size and is a proven run stopper. Many wondered exactly where Leonard would fit on the Jets defensive line, which already featured stars like Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson, but Richardson’s suspension and subsequent run-in with the law have opened up a major opportunity for Williams to be an impact player in his rookie year.

Linebacker Vic Beasley, taken at No. 8 by the Falcons, is another strong contender for the award. Beasley has been roundly praised for his agility at the linebacker position and many feel that he’s going to be a menace for opposing quarterbacks right out of the gate. It also helps Beasley’s case that he’ll be under the tutelage of Dan Quinn, who is known for developing tough players in the front seven. For what it’s worth, the Clemson product also looked impressive in his preseason debut.

Outside of those top ten picks, other viable candidates for the trophy include a pair of “red flag” guys in Cowboys linebacker Randy Gregory and Broncos defensive end/linebacker Shane Ray. Without their respective off-the-field issues, both players would have been strong candidates to go inside of the top ten on talent alone. Staying in the front seven, there was great buzz surrounding Kentucky’s Bud Dupree in the months leading up to the draft and he now finds himself with a franchise that is historically known for it’s hard-nosed defense.

A defensive back has not won DROY since Charles Woodson did it in 1998, but early cornerbacks like Marcus Peters (Chiefs) and Trae Waynes (Vikings) could get in the mix if they get opportunities to make big plays.

Who do you think will win Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015? Let us know in the comments below!

Draft Notes: Vikings, Rams, Patriots, Bears

The Vikings could have an exciting offense next season, and that’s because the front office dedicated last year’s draft picks to improving their team on that side of the ball. Although the organization had acquired some foundational players, including quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, head coach Mike Zimmer said his team was still considering offensive weapons in the first round of this year’s draft. Via Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune

“The Teddy thing was huge because that was really the number one priority of the organization. We had to get a quarterback we thought could take us to the next level. Honestly, we didn’t go into this draft saying this was going to be a defensive draft. We went in and we had offensive guys targeted, but they might have gotten picked before we could pick them.

When we picked Trae Waynes, there were three or four guys there we thought we would be happy with, but part of it with Trae was the position he plays. Typically when you draft those corners, you draft pretty high. Once it gets down lower, to the second round, they don’t produce like the higher picks. Knock on wood — we hope we’re drafting a little lower next year.”

Let’s take a look at some more draft notes from around the NFL…

  • The Rams were involved in the bidding for undrafted free agent La’el Collins, head coach Jeff Fisher told ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner“Yeah, we were involved in it,” Fisher said. “There were some things, we still had some unanswered questions at the time in which he made his decision but we were involved. We were told by them that we were in the final four, which is not necessarily a consolation but we were involved, yes.”
  • Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck contacted Collins to recruit him to their respective teams, tweets Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez. The reporter adds that the lineman seriously considered the Dolphins‘ pitch.
  • Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes the Patriots would have willingly traded their first-rounder if an inquiring team had sweetened their offer. Ideally, the Patriots would have preferred an early second-round pick and a third-round pick in return. Reiss clarifies that the team is still please with their selection of Malcom Brown.
  • The Bears had been eyeing quarterback Shane Carden during the draft, and ESPN.com’s Jeff Dickerson writes that the team was thrilled about the opportunity to sign the player as an undrafted free agent. “He was actually a guy that we had good grades on, a guy that could have potentially been a draft pick,” Bears coach John Fox told Dickerson. “Our scouts, obviously, saw a lot more of him than the coaching staff. But he was productive, smart. He has good moxie, being able to execute in a pass offense that throws the ball quite a bit and was very productive.”

Vikings Sign Entire Draft Class

Well, that was pretty easy for the Vikings. While most teams tend to sign their draft choices in drips and drabs, the Vikings announced that they have signed their entire 2015 draft class. Those ten rookies are:

  • Round 1, CB Trae Waynes
  • Round 2: LB Eric Kendricks
  • Round 3: DE Danielle Hunter
  • Round 4: OL T.J. Clemmings
  • Round 5: TE Mycol Pruitt
  • Round 5: WR Stefon Diggs
  • Round 6: OL Tyrus Thompson
  • Round 6: DL B.J. Dubose
  • Round 7: OL Austin Shepherd
  • Round 7: LB Edmond Robinson

The signing of Waynes was leaked out earlier today by Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The eleventh player selected in the 2015 draft, Waynes will earn nearly $13MM over the life of his rookie contract, and will have the opportunity to make several extra million in 2019 if Minnesota exercises his fifth-year option. Because he just missed the cutoff to be a top-10 pick, Waynes’ fifth year won’t be as pricey as it otherwise would’ve — those amounts aren’t known yet, but for 2016 options, the difference in salaries between a top-10 cornerback and a corner picked between 11th and 32nd exceeded $3.5MM.

Kendricks was last season’s Butkus Award winner, giving him the crown of best collegiate linebacker in the country. Kendricks’ brother, Mychal, plays for the Eagles and father Marvin Kendricks, played running back at UCLA and enjoyed a stint in the CFL.

With ten UDFAs also in the fold, the Vikings’ roster is now at 90 players, according to the press release.

Vikings Sign Trae Waynes

Former Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes is officially a Viking, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP. A source tells Wolfson (Twitter link) that Waynes has signed his four-year rookie contract with the club.

The 11th player selected in the 2015 draft, Waynes will earn nearly $13MM over the life of his rookie contract, and will have the opportunity to make several extra million in 2019 if Minnesota exercises his fifth-year option. Because he just missed the cutoff to be a top-10 pick, Waynes’ fifth year won’t be as pricey as it otherwise would’ve — those amounts aren’t known yet, but for 2016 options, the difference in salaries between a top-10 cornerback and a corner picked between 11th and 32nd exceeded $3.5MM.

Of the 10 players the Vikings selected in last week’s draft, Waynes is the first one reported to have signed his rookie deal, though the others figure to follow suit shortly.

Breer’s Latest: Titans, Gurley, Rams, Bears

With the draft less than an hour from getting underway, Albert Breer of the NFL Network took to Twitter to pass along a number of draft-related nuggets. Here are the highights from Breer (all Twitter links):

  • The Titans have fielded offers for the No. 2 pick, but haven’t gotten any to their liking yet and are ready to draft Marcus Mariota. The club isn’t very interested in picks below 15th overall as a central part of any trade package.
  • Teams like the Browns, Dolphins, and Chargers are eyeing Todd Gurley, and it’s possible one of those clubs – or another suitor – will get anxious and trade up for the Georgia running back, given the interest he’s generating.
  • Although Washington, the Jets, and the Rams are all viewed as trade-down candidates in the top 10, St. Louis is a little more flexible than the other two teams, who may not want to drop too far. Washington may target an offensive lineman like Brandon Scherff or Ereck Flowers if Scot McCloughan decides to move down, and those players – or Andrus Peatcould be targets for the Giants and Rams as well.
  • There’s a belief that Giants GM Jerry Reese would prefer a pass rusher to an offensive lineman at No. 9, but depending on how the first few picks play out, the value might not match up.
  • According to Breer, the run on offensive lineman may happen earlier in the first round than people think, which may motivate one or two teams to trade up. Cameron Erving has a chance to go in the teens. The Panthers and Broncos are among the teams picking late in the first who are seeking offensive linemen.
  • Cornerback Trae Waynes is generating buzz and could go as high as seventh overall to the Bears. Dupree and Kevin White are also in the mix at No. 7. The draft range for Amari Cooper appears to be between the third and sixth overall pick, so he likely won’t be available for Chicago at No. 7.
  • The Falcons may decide to move up from No. 8 for an impact defender like Leonard Williams, but if they stay where they are, Bud Dupree could be their man.
  • Either Sean Mannion or Bryce Petty figures to be the third quarterback off the board, and it’s not likely to happen in the first round.
  • According to Breer, teams believe Shane Ray will slip but will be picked in the first round, whereas Randy Gregory isn’t viewed as a first-round pick.