Trae Waynes

AFC Notes: Jets, Chargers, Ekeler, Bengals, Waynes

Another week, more drama with the Jets. While tanking is often talked about in the NFL in terms of roster construction and letting young guys play, it’s very rare for a team to be accused of actively trying to lose games. But that’s exactly what’s happening in New York, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes. The latest dustup surrounds starting cornerback Bless Austin, and a neck injury that just landed him on injured reserve. Head coach Adam Gase had previously expressed optimism that Austin would play this past Sunday, then suddenly pivoted and said the team’s doctors told him Austin didn’t feel good.

Mehta writes that Jets employees “vehemently disagreed with the head coach’s characterization of the situation.” He reports that Austin told teammates the neck issue would only require a couple of days of rest, and that the medical staff shared that opinion. After that, “people at all levels of the organization have started to wonder whether Jets brass actually care about winning any of their remaining games.” Mehta says some within the building have concluded “the powers that be want to tank for Trevor Lawrence.” The Jets just cut starting cornerback Pierre Desir and placed fellow corner Brian Poole on injured reserve, making Austin’s absence all the more significant in their now extremely young secondary. It’s not unusual for a team to strip down its roster of veterans, but it would be unusual for a team to purposely sideline a healthy player in order to field a less competitive product. This will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on as the season winds down.

Here’s more from a couple of the AFC’s other divisions:

  • The Chargers are in the midst of yet another injury-plagued season, but reinforcements may be on the way. The team will designate star running back Austin Ekeler to return from injured reserve and he’ll practice this week, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets. Pelissero adds that it’s not clear yet if he’ll be able to be active for this weekend’s game against the Bills, but either way it sounds like he’ll be back on the field very soon. He’s been one of the league’s most productive running backs the past two years, both as a runner and receiver. Ekeler hasn’t played since Week 4 due to a serious hamstring injury he suffered against the Buccaneers. He was averaging over five yards per carry with 17 receptions through only a little over three games.
  • While Ekeler will be back any week now, things are a lot less certain for Bengals cornerback Trae Waynes. Waynes signed a three-year, $42MM deal with Cincy this offseason, but hasn’t played in a game yet after tearing a pec in August. Waynes finally popped up on the rehab field at a Bengals practice this past week, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic writes, but a return this season is still in question. “Still unsure at this point, honestly,” Waynes said. “I’m trying to work as hard and as fast and as smart as I can to get back out there without risk of jeopardizing my body to another injury. Unfortunately, it’s not up to me to decide if I can get cleared. So, I’m just doing my part to make that happen as soon as possible.” Waynes expressed frustration with what looks like a lost year, adding that the COVID-19 restrictions have made it hard for him to get acclimated to his new team without being able to practice or play. “Very frustrating, boring,” the former first-round pick of the Vikings said. “I’m not used to it. It’s my first major injury through college and the NFL. I’m not used to just sitting out the whole season and doing absolutely nothing but rehabbing.”
  • In case you missed it, crucial Titans linebacker Jayon Brown is out for the season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/18/20

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Activated from IR: OL Phil Haynes
  • Placed on IR: CB Neiko Thorpe

Tennessee Titans

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/6/20

Here are Friday’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Kansas City Chiefs

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

Bengals Place Trae Waynes On IR

The Bengals have placed Trae Waynes on injured reserve, per a club announcement. To fill his place on the roster, they’ve re-signed fellow cornerback Torry McTyer.

[RELATED: Bengals Waive G Alex Redmond]

Waynes has not been completely ruled out for the year, though he is expected to be out for a “sizable portion” of the season. Rather than clogging up a roster spot, the Bengals will park the star CB on IR to preserve their flexibility. By waiting until Monday to make the move, the Bengals will technically reserve the right to activate Waynes after as just three games. However, his pectoral tear will almost certainly keep him out of action for a longer stretch.

The Bengals signed Waynes to a three-year, $42MM deal earlier this year, one that pays $20MM in 2020. Former fifth-round pick Darius Phillips will move into the starting lineup to fill-in for him, while McTyer offers some CB support in reserve. McTyer, entering his fourth pro season, has history with defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo dating back to their time together in Miami.

The Bengals, sans Waynes, will kick off their season at home on Sunday against the Chargers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals’ Trae Waynes To Miss Time

Trae Waynes will be out for a while. The Bengals cornerback underwent surgery for a torn pectoral muscle and his recovery will extend into a “sizable portion” of the season, according to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

Waynes has a “chance” to return before the season is through, according to the NFL.com duo, an indication that he’ll be out for months, rather than just a few weeks. That’s the standard for pectoral surgery, though some players have recovered faster than others. J.J. Watt, for example, managed to return for the final stretch of the Texans’ 2019 campaign.

The Bengals signed Waynes to a three-year, $42MM deal earlier this year, one that pays $20MM in Year One. The two sides didn’t necessarily get off on the right foot, however. The Bengals refused to allow Waynes to take an off-site physical, which kept his $15MM signing bonus and training plan in limbo.

After making Waynes one of the NFL’s highest-paid cornerbacks, they’ll have to forge ahead without him for the time being. The Bengals also moved on from former first-rounders Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick, putting more of the onus on players like former fifth-round pick Darius Phillips. For what it’s worth, veteran defensive back Logan Ryan is still available for hire, though he would prefer to play safety.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals’ Trae Waynes To Miss Time?

Bengals cornerback Trae Waynes will receive a second opinion on his pectoral injury, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. The early fear is that Waynes won’t be able to debut with his new team until late October, at the earliest. 

[RELATED: Bengals Meet With Mike Daniels]

The Bengals refused to allow Waynes to take an off-site physical, which kept his $15MM signing bonus in limbo. Waynes has passed the team physical, but the delay has prevented Waynes from his usual pre-season preparations. Now, with just a few weeks to go before the start of the season, it’s looking like the Bengals’ new star cornerback will be sidelined for a while.

Waynes’ three-year, $42MM deal is set to pay out $20MM in 2020. Now one of the league’s ten highest-paid cornerbacks, Waynes was expected to help lead a new look secondary that is without former first-rounders Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick.

Waynes has topped out at an above-average level – he’s never graded above 70.0 on Pro Football Focus’ scale in five seasons. Still, the Bengals see big potential in the 28-year-old. Along with D.J. Reader, he’s one of the team’s most notable free agent investments in years.

Former fifth-round pick Darius Phillips could take over nickel duties while Waynes heals up. In theory, the Bengals could also check in with veteran defensive back Logan Ryan.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Waynes, Conner

Prior to signing a six-year, $54MM deal with the Redskins prior to the 2009 campaign, three-time Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall had the opportunity to join the Patriots. The defensive back ultimately opted for the more lucrative deal, a decision he’s now regretting.

“When I signed to play half the season with Washington in 2008, there was a line in my contract that said the team could not franchise tag me that next season. I remember negotiations for a new deal with Washington weren’t going well, and there were other teams in the picture, including New England,” Hall said (via NFL.com). “At that time, players didn’t take short-term deals, but Randy Moss had just signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Patriots. I couldn’t believe it.

“In my own contract discussions with the Pats, I recall Bill Belichick telling me they couldn’t give me the contract Moss signed. Being a young and greedy knucklehead, I chose to stay in Washington on a long-term deal, which ultimately had me making the same per-year salary as Moss. Over a few million, I could’ve changed my legacy by being part of that dynasty. That was on the table for me, and I wish I would’ve made the decision to take less money and play for Belichick.”

Hall ended up sticking with the Redskins through the 2017 season. The Redskins ultimately won 56 games between the 2009 and 2017 seasons, earning a pair of playoff appearances. The Patriots won 112 games and made four Super Bowls during that same span.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC…

  • Earlier this offseason, cornerback Trae Waynes signed a four-year, $42MM deal with the Bengals, including a $15MM signing bonus. However, as SI.com’s Albert Breer details, the former first-rounder still hasn’t received any of that money, and this is an ongoing theme throughout the NFL. One agent told Breer that executives are wary of finalizing any deals over fears of a cancelled season, and organizations are “within their rights to leave deals undone as a result of not wanting to do off-campus physicals.”
  • Breer adds that Waynes is “pretty sensitive to how his concern over a $15 million payment might come off, understanding the job situation in our country right now.” Meanwhile, the Bengals have explained their side of the story. “The Bengals are very excited about adding Trae to the roster and are confident that he will be a good player here, but unfortunately issues relating to coronavirus have made contract execution matters harder than anyone wishes,” said Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn. “Hopefully agreements can be reached soon between the NFL and the NFLPA that allow the season to get underway, at which point these issues go away.”
  • Ed Bouchette of The Athletic can’t envision running back James Conner inking an extension with the Steelers. The writer notes that the 25-year-old has only had one good season, and he’s battled injuries throughout his career. Following a breakout 2018 campaign, Conner finished the 2019 season with an underwhelming 715 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns.

Contract Details: JPP, Boston, Waynes

A new batch of contract details to pass along, all via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter):

  • LB Jason Pierre-Paul, Buccaneers: two year extension. $25MM, including $20MM guaranteed. Salaries: $6.5MM, guaranteed (2020), $12.5MM, with $7.5MM guaranteed for injury (2021).
  • Tre Boston, Panthers: three years, $18MM. $8MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1.16MM (2020), $2.25MM (2021), $3.69MM (2022). $1MM third day 2020 roster bonus, $1MM third day 2022 roster bonus.
  • CB Trae Waynes, Bengals: three years, $42MM. $15MM signing bonus. Salaries: $5MM (2020), $8.4MM (2021), $10.4MM (2022).
  • DT Linval Joseph, Chargers: two years, $17MM. $8MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1.5MM (2020), $5.5MM (2021). $1MM annual playtime, sacks, Pro Bowl incentive.
  • OL Wes Schweitzer, Redskins: three years, $13.5MM. $4MM guaranteed, $3MM signing bonus. Salaries: $1MM guaranteed (2020), $3.49MM (2021), $4.49MM (2022).
  • LB A.J. Klein, Bills: three years, $18MM. $9.7MM guaranteed, $1.2MM signing bonus. Salaries: $2.2MM guaranteed (2020), $4.1MM, with $3.2MM guaranteed (2021), $4.2MM (2022).
  • OL Tyler Shatley, Jaguars: signed. One-year, $1.511MM deal with $600K guaranteed. $1.375MM salary for 2020.

Bengals To Sign CB Trae Waynes

Minutes after losing Darqueze Dennard, the Bengals will add another former first-round cornerback. They have agreed to a deal with longtime Vikings defender Trae Waynes, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com report (via Twitter).

The Bengals will pay big money to land him as well, with Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reporting (via Twitter) this is a three-year, $42MM deal. The $14MM-AAV contract will pay out $20MM in Year 1 and net Waynes $31MM after the 2021 season, per Pelissero. This puts Waynes among the top-10 highest-paid cornerbacks.

Waynes was a regular starter with Minnesota over the past three seasons and joins Xavier Rhodes among Vikings corners set to play elsewhere in 2020. Waynes will join another team that has valued corners extensively. The Bengals, despite losing Dennard, still roster ex-first-rounders Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson.

While Waynes has topped out at an above-average level, never grading above 70.0 on Pro Football Focus’ scale in five seasons (but never grading below 63.0), this still represents significant deviation for the Bengals. They just signed D.J. Reader to an eight-figure-per-year deal. He and Waynes double as the conservative franchise’s most notable outside free agent investments in many years.

The Vikings selected Waynes in the 2015 first round and used him as a starter in 53 games. Over the past few days, the Vikings have moved on from several members of the core they spent years assembling. Rhodes, Linval Joseph and Stefon Diggs are gone. Everson Griffen is a free agent. Minnesota has done some retooling this week and will need to add reinforcements at corner with two of their primary cover men out of the picture.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.