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NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/12/21

A summary of today’s minor draft pick signings:

Baltimore Ravens

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Broncos, Bobby Massie Agree To Deal

Connected to several candidates to replace Ja’Wuan James at right tackle, the Broncos appear to have chosen a path here. They are signing Bobby Massie, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

One of several tackles to work out for the team this week, Massie agreed to a one-year deal worth $4MM. Massie’s time in Chicago overlapped with Vic Fangio‘s. The Broncos HC was with the Bears during three of Massie’s five seasons in the Windy City. The Bears parted ways with Massie in March, declining his 2021 option.

While this marks a big day for the Bears’ longtime tackle tandem, with Charles Leno signing with Washington, it provides the Broncos a veteran option at their second-most troublesome position. Brought in to stop a revolving door at right tackle in 2019, James missed most of that season and opted out in 2020. His Achilles tear is not certain to knock him out for all of 2021, but the Broncos placing him on the reserve/NFI list will prevent James from playing for them this season.

Massie, 32 in August, will be on track to be the ninth Week 1 Broncos right tackle starter in nine years. (The current list, for those curious: Orlando Franklin, Chris Clark, Ryan Harris, Donald Stephenson, Menelik Watson, Jared Veldheer, James and Elijah Wilkinson.) With James out of the picture, Wilkinson in Chicago and Massie on a one-year deal, this streak may well reach 10 in 2022. But Massie checks off a key need for the current Broncos, who have been linked to another longtime NFC North performer at quarterback.

Whether it’s Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater or Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the Broncos had a major blocking vacancy. The James injury prompted them to bring in four tackles — Massie, Dennis Kelly, Jermaine Eluemunor and Cameron Fleming — for auditions. The Broncos also checked in on Leno, but he preferred to stay at left tackle and will do so in Washington. Denver added 2019 UDFA tackle Ryan Pope this week as well.

A former Cardinals fourth-round pick, Massie broke into Arizona’s starting lineup as a rookie. He served as the Cards’ primary right tackle in 2012, 2014 and ’15. The Bears signed Massie in 2016 and used him as a starter in 64 games. Pro Football Focus slotted Massie 36th among tackles last season. He graded just outside the top 30 in 2018 as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Sign Round 2 Pick Carlos Basham Jr.

The Bills operated aggressively in an effort to bolster their pass rush in the draft, taking defensive ends with each of their first two picks. The second of those selections, Carlos Basham Jr., signed his rookie contract Wednesday.

Basham will join first-round pick Gregory Rousseau in Buffalo. Cousin of Cowboys D-lineman Tarell Basham, Carlos went to Wake Forest and was a steady presence in ACC backfields.

The 6-foot-3, 274-pound pass rusher registered 10 sacks as a junior in 2019. Between his sophomore and junior seasons, the emerging Demon Deacons sack artist totaled 29 tackles for loss. Basham played in just six games last season, recording five sacks. Scouts Inc. graded Basham as the 43rd overall prospect — five spots ahead of Rousseau. The Bills drafted Basham at No. 61.

Last season, the Bills finished with just 38 sacks. No Buffalo rusher totaled more than five. The team still has thirtysomething starters Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison, but three first- or second-round picks over the past two years will be groomed to take over in the near future.

Buffalo drafted Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa in the 2020 second round and now will have two new coveted prospects set to help the cause. Hughes and Addison are set to be free agents in 2022. Addison adjusted his three-year contract in March, converting it into a two-year deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers To Sign Blake Bortles

4:36pm: No visit will be necessary. The Packers have reached an agreement with the seven-year veteran quarterback, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. It’s a one-year deal (Twitter links).

Bortles and Hackett will reunite with the Packers amid some QB turbulence. Rodgers is seeking a Green Bay exit, and Bortles does bring substantial experience as a starter. He has started 73 of the 78 games he has played. In addition to working with Hackett previously, Bortles has experience in the offense Matt LaFleur uses, having spent 2019 and some of 2020 with Sean McVay in L.A.

4:21pm: Jordan Love is the only Packers quarterback expected to take part in voluntary on-field workouts, which the team will begin next week. As it stands, the 2020 first-round pick is set to be the only Green Bay QB at minicamp as well.

This has led the team to show interest in free agent passers. Blake Bortles is now on the team’s radar, with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein noting (via Twitter) the Packers are pursuing the former Jaguars starter. A visit is likely. The Packers are set to meet with Chad Kelly and former Falcons backup Kurt Benkert, but Bortles obviously has far more experience.

Bortles spent last season with the Broncos and Rams. Despite Denver’s historic issues at quarterback, the five-year Jacksonville starter did not see action in 2020. He threw two passes in 2019, working as Jared Goff‘s backup in Los Angeles.

The former No. 3 overall pick would be a natural fit in Green Bay. Current Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett worked as Bortles’ Jags OC for nearly four years. After taking over the starting job early in his rookie season, Bortles held it until the 2018 season. The Jags were on the doorstep of Super Bowl LII with Bortles, though their talented defense played a notable role in the team reaching that point, but the quarterback’s subsequent extension quickly backfired. Jacksonville ate considerable dead money to cut Bortles in 2019.

Even if Bortles signs, the Packers are likely to add a UDFA, Silverstein adds (on Twitter). The rookie passer would profile as a camp arm behind Love and whichever veteran the team signs. With Aaron Rodgers still at odds with his team of 16 years, the Packers are in an unusual place at quarterback. They opted not to bring back multiyear backup Tim Boyle, bumping Love up to their QB2 role. Should Rodgers stick to his guns, Love may be summoned to action sooner than the team expected. Bortles or another veteran would be needed in this case.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Sign First-Rounder Rashod Bateman

The first of the Ravens’ two 2021 first-round picks, Rashod Bateman is now under contract. The former Minnesota wide receiver signed his rookie deal Wednesday.

The No. 27 overall pick, Bateman signed a $12.6MM contract — with a $6.5MM signing bonus — and is now under contract through 2024. He could be kept through 2025 on this deal via the now-fully guaranteed fifth-year option. Baltimore will not have to make that decision until May 2024. In the meantime, Bateman will be a welcome addition to a team that has changed up its receiving corps this offseason.

It has not been especially easy for the Ravens to bolster their receiving crew. They were in on Kenny Golladay, and both JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.Y. Hilton passed on better offers from Baltimore in order to re-sign with the teams that drafted them. Although the Ravens did sign Sammy Watkins, their run-heavy offense has predictably been an issue for free agent wideouts. As such, the Ravens have spent first-round picks on receivers in two of the past three years.

At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Bateman will bring a different skill set compared to Marquise Brown. In 2019, however, Bateman did post a Brown-like yards-per-catch figure (20.9). After that 1,219-yard, 11-touchdown season, the big-bodied wideout played a limited role in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. Bateman opted out, opted back in, then left the Golden Gophers during the season to prepare for the draft. He still wound up a first-round pick and will attempt to give Lamar Jackson a steady target on the outside.

Bateman is the first of Baltimore’s draftees to sign and the second first-round pick to ink his rookie contract. The Colts signed Kwity Paye last week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers, Asante Samuel Jr. Agree To Deal

The Chargers have agreed to terms with second-round pick Asante Samuel Jr. (Twitter link via agent David Canter). Per the terms of his slot, the Florida State cornerback will earn just over $7MM on his four-year deal. 

The Bolts nabbed Samuel at No. 47 overall, though he was projected by many to go in the first round. Samuel’s lack of size may have hurt his stock, but he was a first-team All-ACC selection last year with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries in just eight games. And, in 2019, he notched 14 passes defensed.

Now, he figures to be a key part of Brandon Staley’s first Chargers defense, especially with Casey Hayward out of the picture. Meanwhile, he’ll also learn from fellow FSU alum Derwin James.

With one down, the Chargers still have eight more draft picks to sign:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

WFT To Sign Charles Leno

The Washington Football Team has agreed to sign former Bears left tackle Charles Leno (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Once finalized, it’ll be a one-year deal for $5MM.

The Bears cut Leno earlier this month after investing a second-round pick in tackle Teven Jenkins. Washington, meanwhile, chose Texas tackle Samuel Cosmi in Round 2. Cosmi may be the long-term solution at LT, but they’ll ease him into the role with Leno as the stopgap starter.

Washington hasn’t had a solid left tackle since things went south with Trent Williams. Leno isn’t on Williams’ level, but he has been an LT starter for the past six seasons, serving as Chicago’s blindside protector from 2015-20. Pro Football Focus graded Leno as a top-25 tackle in three of the past four seasons, including the 2020 season. He’s durable, too; Leno hasn’t missed a game since his rookie year.

The Broncos also had Leno on their radar as they look to replace the injured Ja’Wuan James. Now, they’ll consider other veterans such asBobby Massie, Dennis Kelly, Jermaine Eluemunor and Cameron Fleming.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs’ Andrew Wylie Signs RFA Tender

Much has changed on the Chiefs’ offensive line since Andrew Wylie suited up for Super Bowl LV. Despite the team’s near-complete overhaul up front, Wylie will be back in the fold.

The three-year veteran signed his restricted free agent tender Tuesday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Barring an extension, Wylie will earn $2.133MM this season. The Chiefs gave Wylie an original-round tender in March.

Since extending that tender offer, the AFC champions have been busy up front. While Wylie has been a primary guard starter in each of his three Chiefs seasons, the team gave Joe Thuney a guard-record contract and brought former Pro Bowler Kyle Long out of retirement. Longtime right guard starter Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is also expected to play in 2021. A doctor, Duvernay-Tardif was the first NFLer to opt out of last season; he focused on his other career amid the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chiefs also drafted Tennessee prospect Trey Smith in Round 6. Smith was widely viewed as a player whose talent warranted a higher-round selection, but medical red flags pushed him down the draft board.

While each of these non-Thuney cogs bring some uncertainty, the Chiefs have beefed up this position considerably this offseason. Wylie, 26, has started 35 games as a pro. Pro Football Focus graded the Eastern Michigan product as a top-30 guard in 2018 and ’19 but slotted him near the bottom at the position last season.

The Chiefs plugged Wylie in at right tackle for Super Bowl LV, following Eric Fisher‘s Achilles tear. That did not go well. But Wylie will have an opportunity to re-establish his value in 2021, ahead of a potential unrestricted free agency bid next year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/11/21

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Cleveland Browns

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tennessee Titans