Trai Turner

NFC Injury Notes: Rodgers, Falcons, Eagles

Aaron Rodgers will enter Sunday with a questionable designation on the Packers‘ injury report. The two-time MVP can improve his chances of playing, obviously, by practicing Saturday — when the Packers do more than the typical walkthrough — but not doing so won’t prevent him from playing. Mike McCarthy said he’d have no issues deploying Rodgers even if he doesn’t practice all week, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. The 13th-year Green Bay coach said his quarterback feels better than he did at the beginning of the week. Despite Rodgers’ performance on Sunday against the Bears and his history of playing through left knee pain, he’s not a lock to face the Vikings.

Here’s the latest from the NFC’s injury situations.

  • Another key Falcons cog won’t be available Sunday. After the losses of Keanu Neal and Deion Jones, Atlanta won’t have the services of starting running back Devonta Freeman. He’s been declared out due to the knee injury he suffered against the Eagles. Tevin Coleman will start. The Falcons have rookie Ito Smith and recently signed Brian Hill in place as backups.
  • Once again, the Giants won’t have their top pass rusher available. While the Giants are hoping to have Olivier Vernon in Week 3, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter), his high ankle sprain will keep him out against the Cowboys.
  • Trai Turner‘s stay in Panthers concussion protocol will result in him missing this week’s game against the Falcons. He’s been declared out, putting Carolina down three starting offensive linemen — Turner and tackles Matt Kalil and Daryl Williams, both of whom residing on IR — going into its NFC South opener.
  • The already-banged-up Eagles didn’t come out of Week 1 unscathed. Darren Sproles will miss Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. The 34-year-old passing-down back sustained a hamstring injury against the Falcons. He’ll join Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery among Philadelphia’s high-profile Week 2 absences.
  • Already without IR-stationed cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the Bucs won’t have Brent Grimes available to cover Eagle wideouts, either. Tampa Bay used two second-round picks on corners, Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart, and could see an extended glimpse of the rookies’ development to this point in their careers.
  • The Lions49ers game will see the visitors without top guard T.J. Lang and the hosts missing deep threat Marquise Goodwin. Both players have been declared out. Kyle Shanahan said (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, on Twitter) Dante Pettis will start in place of Goodwin.

NFC Rumors: Johnson, Rodgers, Panthers

More details on David Johnson‘s Cardinals contract are emerging. In addition to the fourth-year running back seeing $24MM in full guarantees as part of his three-year, $39MM extension, Johnson will receive a $12MM signing bonus, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). His $5.7MM base salary in 2019 is fully guaranteed. The All-Pro’s 2020 base ($10.2MM) will have $5.1MM guaranteed fully at signing, per Graziano (on Twitter), but the other half of it is guaranteed for injury only. However, Johnson’s full 2020 salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the Cardinals’ roster by March of 2019.

Each of Johnson’s next three seasons include $750K in per-game roster bonuses. As far as cap numbers go, Johnson now has a $5MM hit this season. The former third-round pick will count $9.45MM against Arizona’s 2019 cap, $13.95MM in 2020 and $11.7MM in 2021, Graziano reports (Twitter link).

Here’s the latest out of the NFC, shifting toward its most important player.

  • Aaron Rodgers missed Packers practice again on Thursday, but this wasn’t unexpected. However, Mike McCarthy said it’s no layup that his two-time MVP quarterback will play Sunday against the Vikings, per Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Rodgers and McCarthy said Wednesday he does not need to practice in order to start Sunday.
  • It keeps getting worse for the Panthers. After serious injuries hit Greg Olsen and Daryl Williams in Week 1, Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner is in concussion protocol, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. Both of Carolina’s starting tackles — Williams and Matt Kalil — are already on IR. Both can return after eight weeks, but at this point, it can’t be assumed both will be back. Carolina could lose a more important player to its cause. Only two players can be recalled from IR. Amini Silatolu filled in for Turner last season, but he may have to play right tackle Sunday. However, the Panthers added Chris Clark to potentially do that. In addition to Silatolu, Newton writes Tyler Larsen and rookie UDFA Brendan Mahon will have a chance to start in place of Turner — in the event he can’t go Sunday.
  • Demario Davis rated as a top-10 Pro Football Focus linebacker last year, doing so for his work as an inside linebacker. It was expected the high-priced free agent would man the middle for the Saints, but they’ve moved him to the weak side, NOLA.com’s Josh Katzenstein notes. Second-year man Alex Anzalone is now stationed as New Orleans’ middle ‘backer, but the team rotated he, Manti Te’o and A.J. Klein as Davis sidekicks in Week 1. Sean Payton said the team’s still determining how it will structure its linebacker usage. Davis played all 66 snaps in the Saints’ loss to the Buccaneers, while Anzalone led the others with 34. Klein functioned in Davis’ role in 2017, playing all of the Saints’ Week 1 snaps in his first game with the team.

Panthers Sign Trai Turner To Extension

It didn’t take long for acting GM Marty Hurney to get to work. The Panthers have agreed to an extension with offensive guard Trai Turner. "<strong

Beyond excited today!!,” Turner tweeted. “Thank you to Mr. [Jerry] Richardson and the Panther family, I’ll be a Panther for four more years!!!

The four-year deal is worth $45MM with $20.5MM guaranteed, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The deal gives Turner a yearly average of $11.25MM per year and will enable him to be a free agent again at the age of 28.

Turner’s new deal gives him the third-highest yearly average of any guard in the NFL. Next year’s guard market will likely see the top guys eclipse Kevin Zeitler‘s $12MM/year average, so it’s a solid deal for the Panthers from a cap perspective. Meanwhile, Turner should be in position for another mega contract just as he enters his prime.

Turner, a former third round pick, was previously set to play out the 2017 season at a $1.931MM cap number. Presumably, the new deal will kick in starting with the 2018 season, giving him a sizable pay bump while keeping him under Panthers control through the 2021 campaign.

Any time you’re able to secure someone like Trai, a two-time Pro Bowler and a staple of our offensive line, you’re very fortunate,” Hurney said in a statement. “The offensive line is a key to the team’s success and Trai is a very integral part of that. We’re extremely excited to have Trai under contract for the next five seasons.”

The ceiling for guards has been pushed higher thanks to recent free agent contracts inked by Zeitler (five years, $60MM) and Kelechi Osemele (five years, $58.5MM). Guards like Joel Bitonio (five years, $51.2MM), David DeCastro (five years, $50MM), Kyle Long (four years, $40MM), and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (five years, $42.4MM) also did their part by signing lucrative extensions with their respective teams.

Turner, 24, has started in every possible game over the last two years, earning back-to-back Pro Bowl nods. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus only gave him a so-so 72.2 overall score last season, placing him as just the 38th best guard in the NFL, but the Panthers believe he’s a much better player than that. In 2015, PFF rated Turner as one of the very best guards in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers, Trai Turner Discussing Extension

The Panthers and guard Trai Turner are in the early stages of working out a new deal, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. League sources say that the talks are preliminary, and that’s probably because the price tag for Turner is trending upwards.Trai Turner (vertical)

[RELATED: Panthers Make Changes At Tight End]

Guards don’t make as much as tackles, but recent contracts inked by Kevin Zeitler (five years, $60MM) and Kelechi Osemele (five years, $58.5MM) have pushed the market. Those deals were inked in free agency, but others like Joel Bitonio (five years, $51.2MM), David DeCastro (five years, $50MM), Kyle Long (four years, $40MM), and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (five years, $42.4MM) got paid handsomely to remain with their respective teams.

Now, it’s Turner’s turn to get paid. The 23-year-old (24 in June) has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons and has been viewed as a quality lineman ever since his rookie year in 2014. As a former third round pick, the Panthers have him under contract at a $1.931MM cap number (which was boosted thanks to the proven performance escalator clause), but it will take a lot more than that to lock him up for 2018 and beyond.

In February, Turner changed representation and signed with Drew Rosenhaus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Rams, Gurley, Panthers, Bears

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will implement his famed 3-4 scheme with the Rams in 2017, as Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com writes in an excellent piece describing the planned transition. Robert Quinn will likely see the most change as a result of the switch, as the longtime defensive end will shift to outside linebacker. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald, however, will continue on as a three-technique, while the defense as a whole figures to feature more man coverage, per Gonzalez.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Rams running back Todd Gurley lobbied for new head coach Sean McVay to retain RBs coach Skip Peete, and Los Angeles will do just that, according to Gonzalez. “When you’ve got a key player like that, you want to try to demonstrate that you’re going to listen,” said McVay. “Their opinion matters.” Gurley, of course, struggled in 2016 after a dynamic rookie campaign, averaging only 3.2 yards per carry last season, a 50% reduction from the year prior. Peete, meanwhile, will return for a second season with the Rams, working under McVay and new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.
  • Entering the final year of his rookie contract, and coming off his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, Panthers guard Trai Turner has signed with Rosenhaus Sports for representation, per Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter link). Turner’s previous agent was Ron Butler, whom Turner had just hired in May 2016. The 23-year-old Turner will earn ~$1.8MM in 2017 thanks to the proven performance escalator, which rewards mid-round picks based on playing time.
  • Bears wide receiver Daniel Braverman has signed Jason Katz of CSE Talent as his new agent, tweets Mullen, who adds Braverman was previously represented by Rosenhaus Sports. Braverman, a 2016 seventh-round pick, was active for three games during his rookie season but didn’t record a reception.

2017 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Donte Moncrief (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.8MM in 2017. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2017 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Aaron Lynch, LB; Marcus Martin, OL

Bears: Charles Leno, T; Will Sutton, DT

Bengals: Russell Bodine, C

Bills: Preston Brown, LB; Seantrel Henderson, T

Broncos: Michael Schofield, OL

Browns: Christian Kirksey, LB

Buccaneers: Kevin Pamphile, G

Cardinals: John Brown, WR

Chiefs: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G; Zach Fulton, G; Phillip Gaines, CB

Colts: Donte Moncrief, WR

Cowboys: Anthony Hitchens, LB

Falcons: Devonta Freeman, RB

Giants: Devon Kennard, LB

Jaguars: Aaron Colvin, CB; Brandon Linder, G; Telvin Smith, LB

Lions: Nevin Lawson, CB; Travis Swanson, C

Packers: Corey Linsley, C; Richard Rodgers, TE

Panthers: Tre Boston, S; Trai Turner, G

Raiders: T.J. Carrie, CB; Justin Ellis, DT; Gabe Jackson, G

Rams: Maurice Alexander, S; E.J. Gaines, CB

Redskins: Bashaud Breeland, CB; Spencer Long, G; Morgan Moses, T

Texans: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE; Andre Hal, S

Titans: DaQuan Jones, DL; Avery Williamson, LB

Vikings: Shamar Stephen, DT

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Patriots, Hoyer, Turner, Dolphins

The Patriots have 30 players on expiring deals this year, as CSNNE.com’s Tom E. Curran writes. That group includes notables such as linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, defensive ends Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard, defensive backs Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon and Malcolm Butler (restricted free agent), and special teams ace Matthew Slater. Ultimately, it all adds up to a complex puzzle for Bill Belichick & Co. as they look to retain their best players.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

NFC South Notes: Newton, Falcons, Bucs

Four paragraphs into an article about the Panthers’ Fan Fest, Charlotte Observer writer Joseph Person quotes Cam Newton, who admits his ankle isn’t fully healed yet: “I can’t stress enough that I’m not 100 percent yet. I’m treating it day in and day out.”

Here’s some more NFC South reading:

  • One of Newton’s newest blockers, 21-year-old rookie guard Trai Turner, is drawing early praise, according to the Observer’s Jonathan Jones, who quotes veteran center Ryan Kalil: “He’s so young and he’s doing such a good job.”
  • Falcons head coach Mike Smith was interviewed the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Orlando Ledbetter. Smith said there will be competition at the Falcons’ free safety spot, but veteran Dwight Lowery is the starter to begin training camp. As for the nickel back job, Robert McClain, Josh Wilson, Javier Arenas and Ricardo Allen are vying for reps.
  • Buccaneers new head man Lovie Smith isn’t deviating from the coaching philosophy and roster structure that sustained him for nine years in Chicago. He’s hand-picked his game managing quarterback in Josh McCown, writes Chris Urso of the Tampa Tribune: “The Bucs don’t need a Drew Brees. Lovie Smith would settle for a Trent Dilfer, a Brad Johnson. The man went to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman at quarterback.” And on the defensive side of the ball, Smith has demanded players trim down in order to play fast and execute his Tampa 2 scheme, writes Alan Dell in the Bradenton Herald.
  • Jason Fitzgerald at OverTheCap.com gave his reaction to yesterday’s Carl Nicks news, saying, “The contract was a good example of the problems that can occur with the all cash salary cap model that is employed by Tampa Bay. Because all cash contracts contain no signing bonus it often leads to lower cash flows in the first year of the contract than awarded in more traditional NFL contracts. The players also receive no “dead money” protection in the contract. These factors lead to teams overpaying for talent and guaranteeing large portions of the contract. Nicks received a ridiculous $25 million in fully guaranteed salary upon signing, an unheard of total for a guard. $31 million of the contract was guaranteed for injury.” Ultimately, the Buccaneers payed Nicks $25MM for nine games of work.

Extra Points: Steelers, Wharton, Sproles

Earlier tonight, Clifton Brown of CSNBaltimore.com went into enemy territory to size up the Steelers‘ receiving corps. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley swears that this the deepest group of receivers he’s ever had the privilege of coaching, but it’s certainly lacking star power outside of Antonio Brown. Earlier tonight, we looked at the Steelers’ offseason, including their lack of change when it comes to wide receivers. Here’s more from around the NFL..

  • With starting left guard Amini Silatolu looking healthy and optimism around rookie Trai Turner, the Panthers felt comfortable with not re-signing former starter Travelle Wharton, writes Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Wharton, meanwhile, has hinted that he plans to retire.
  • You can call Eagles offseason pickup Darren Sproles a tailback or an all-purpose back, but don’t go calling him a receiver. “Yeah, that’s crazy,” the offensive weapon told reporters, including Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com. “Half the time I get my catches out of the backfield.” Sproles, entering his 10th season, has 378 career receptions for 3,381 yards and 27 career receiving touchdowns. He has more career receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns than either Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles’ two starting receivers.
  • The NFL announced that a revised settlement in the concussion lawsuit with former players has been reached. The funds will not be capped, meaning that once the compensation program is established funds will be available to any retired player who develops a qualifying neurocognitive condition.
  • The NFLPA announced via press release that an arbitrator has upheld discipline on three contract advisors, including Martin Magid for bad business dealings with former client Elvis Dumervil.

Extra Points: Clowney, Mathieu, Slay, Carrington, Kalil, Turner

  • Texans No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, who was bothered by a groin injury, underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia, relays Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. Clowney is expected to be ready for training camp.
  • The Cardinals are taking a patient approach with defensive back Tyran Mathieu and nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu, both of whom are recovering from torn ACL injuries, writes NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus“I had Oct. 1, or after the (bye week) as the target date for me personally,” says head coach Bruce Arians. “If they do something better than that, God bless ’em.” The Cardinals’ bye comes in Week 4 before a road game at Denver.
  • Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp says the Lions were wise not to “cave to public pressure” and reach for a cornerback in the first round because he expects 2013 second-rounder Darius Slay to make strides in year two. That said, in light of Chris Houston‘s release, Sharp says Slay must be the Lions’ most improved defensive player in 2014. Meanwhile, in a rundown of the team’s cornerbacks, Sharp’s colleague Dave Birkett calls Slay a work in progress, “But he’s long and athletic and after struggling with zone concepts will be a better fit in Teryl Austin’s new defense.”
  • Could Alex Carrington be an under-the-radar steal for the Rams? St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Joe Lyons says, the 26-year-old, 6-5, 300-pound defensive lineman “seemed to be on the verge of a breakout season with the Buffalo Bills last year when a torn quadriceps tendon ended his campaign after just three games.” In fact, entering last season, Carrington was viewed by Pro Football Focus as a “secret superstar,” calling him “one of the league’s most promising young pass-rushing DTs.”
  • A right knee injury was to blame for Vikings tackle Matt Kalil‘s sophomore dropoff, writes Chris Tomasson in the Pioneer Press.
  • “Other than being 20, there’s not much negative you can say” about Panthers third-round guard Trai Turner, says ESPN’s David Newton.
  • The contracts of the NFL’s highest-paid centers – Maurkice Pouncey, Alex Mack and Ryan Kalil – were examined by OverTheCap.com’s Jason Fitzgerald, who says annual value can be misleading.