Week In Review

5 Key Stories: 7/14/19 – 7/21/19

Tyreek Hill evades suspension: The complex saga involving the embattled Chiefs wide receiver broke in his favor this week, with the NFL opting not to suspend the fourth-year standout. This news came as a surprise around the league, due to Hill’s past and his threatening of his ex-fiancee, but the Chiefs have brought him back into the fold and will expect him for training camp. While this controversial decision figures to follow the All-Pro talent, he may be in the extension conversation again. However, the Chiefs — who had begun negotiations before the latest round of off-field Hill drama began — are now planning to wait on a Hill re-up due to the fallout from this months-long drama.

Falcons fortify defense long-term: The Falcons’ final pre-camp week included significant box-checking on their offseason to-do list. Both Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones agreed to extensions, the former at the franchise tag deadline. Jarrett is now the NFL’s third-highest-paid interior defender, while Jones’ deal partially bridged the sizable gap between C.J. Mosley‘s contract and the off-ball linebacker field. As for Julio Jones, the All-Pro wideout has reported to Falcons camp. But no deal appears imminent.

Robbie Gould cashes in; Jadeveon Clowney still waiting: The 49ers will have their kicker back, with the sides ending their impasse hours before the 2019 franchise tag deadline. Gould, who requested a trade earlier this offseason, wanted two years fully guaranteed to stay with the 49ers. He got it and will enter a third season as San Francisco’s kicker. Clowney is now going into his sixth Texans season, and the three-time Pro Bowl defender will do so without a long-term contract. With a reported disagreement between the team’s previous power structure on Clowney, the Texans did not offer the former No. 1 overall pick a deal in line with the ones franchise-tagged defensive ends Frank Clark and DeMarcus Lawrence signed this year. The NFLPA is also planning a grievance to have Clowney tagged as a defensive end, where he can collect $1.7MM more than the linebacker tag.

Eagles bring back a fan favorite: Darren Sproles looks set to play a 15th season. Twice flirting with retirement before injury-marred campaigns, the 36-year-old running back signed a one-year deal to return to the Eagles. Sproles joins a new-look Philadelphia backfield, with Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard set to occupy key roles this season and replace some of Sproles’ recent teammates. But this agreement should allow Sproles to climb higher on the NFL’s all-purpose yards list, where he currently sits sixth.

Zeke rethinking his training camp plans? Ezekiel Elliott reported to Cowboys OTAs and minicamp, but he is now a holdout risk. The two-time rushing champion is now considering staying away from Cowboys camp and may well be out of the country when his teammates report to Oxnard, Calif., next week. The Cowboys have been murky about the subject of an Elliott extension. Although the team has significant leverage due to the August 6 reporting date tied to Elliott’s service-time clock as it relates to free agency, Dallas’ offensive centerpiece may be ready to test the franchise’s resolve.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

5 Key NFL Stories: 6/30/19-7/7/19

NFL, NFLPA hope to sign new CBA soon. Things appear to be going surprisingly smoothly in negotiations between the two sides. Earlier this week, we heard that they were hoping to have a deal done before the start of the 2019 season. For the past year-plus, there’s been constant worrying about a potential work stoppage, but that doesn’t seem too likely at the moment. That being said, there are still some potential hiccups, which we outlined here. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is also reportedly taking on a prominent role in the negotiations. We’ll likely be hearing a lot more about this situation as the summer progresses, and we’ll make sure to keep you posted.

No suspension for Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys’ star running back won’t be suspended for an incident with a security guard in Las Vegas that took place back in May. The whole ordeal always seemed minor, but the league took it quite seriously. Zeke was summoned to meet with Roger Goodell, and the league investigators even interviewed his girlfriend. Elliott is under team control for two more years, and we heard recently that the team was hoping to extend him soon. That’s good news for the Ohio State product, since earlier reports had indicated Dallas was going to hold off on extending him.

Randy Gregory to apply for reinstatement. The embattled Cowboys pass-rusher is looking to get reinstated yet again. Gregory has always been high on talent, but has been unable to stay out of trouble with the commissioner’s office. Since entering the league in 2015 he’s already been suspended a handful of times, including for the entire 2017 season. He was conditionally reinstated prior to last year, and racked up six sacks in 14 games before another failed drug test saw him slapped with an indefinite ban. Jones thinks that he’ll be able to play this season, and the team recently signed him to an extension.

Tedy Bruschi suffers stroke. We got some unfortunate news on Friday when word broke that Bruschi had suffered another stroke. Bruschi’s family released a statement that read in part “Tedy is recovering well, and would like to thank the nurses, doctors and staff at Sturdy Memorial Hospital for all they have done. Tedy and his family thank you for your ongoing encouragement, and kindly ask for privacy at this time.” The former Patriots linebacker suffered a stroke in 2005 during his playing days with New England, and returned to the field later that same year. All of us here at PFR are hoping for a full and speedy recovery, and send our best wishes.

Josh Rosen unlikely to start Week 1. The Dolphins traded a second-round pick for Rosen back in April, but they aren’t going to just hand him the starting job. Earlier this week, we heard that Rosen is a “clear underdog” to start Week 1. One Dolphins player reportedly said that Ryan Fitzpatrick “impressed everyone as a leader and that he was clearly the best quarterback in the offseason program.” Fitzpatrick seems to have a solid leg up in what will be one of the few open quarterback battles in camps this year. While Fitz is capable of playing very well for stretches, ultimately the Dolphins are planning for the future and not looking to win in 2019, so it would be a shock if we don’t see Rosen at some point.

5 Key NFL Stories: 6/23/19 – 6/30/19

Jonah Williams to miss 2019 season. The Bengals were dealt a tough blow earlier this week, when it was announced that Jonah Williams would likely miss his entire rookie season. The offensive tackle underwent shoulder surgery that will sideline him for the 2019 campaign. “We look forward to Jonah being a major contributor in the future, and know that he won’t let this injury deter him from still being an important part of this team,” new Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said. Cincinnati drafted Williams 11th overall in April, and he was supposed to be an immediate starter. With this news, the Bengals’ offensive line got a lot thinner. Cordy Glenn is now expected to kick over from left guard in his place.

Tyreek Hill meets with league investigators. The embattled Chiefs receiver had his long-awaited meeting with the NFL’s investigator this week. Hill made his case during the meeting, and it apparently went very well for him. The Chiefs apparently think that Hill will be suspended for a maximum of four games, which is a big win for him considering how things were looking earlier this offseason. We also heard that Hill is expected to attend Kansas City’s training camp next month.

Saints DT David Onyemata suspended one game. The Saints’ defensive line will be a little thin in Week 1, as Onyemata was slapped with a one-game ban stemming from his February citation for marijuana possession. Onyemata is heading into the final year of his rookie deal, and has played a pivotal role in New Orleans the past couple of seasons. Last year, he played nearly 60 percent of the defensive snaps. Sheldon Rankins tore his Achilles toward the end of last season and isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the 2019 campaign, so the Saints will be lacking for defensive tackles when they open the season against the Texans.

Eli Manning not worried about Daniel Jones. The notion that Jones could push Manning for the Giants’ starting job has been picking up steam recently, but the veteran doesn’t sound too concerned. Speaking recently at his passing academy, Manning said he doesn’t think there’s a competition between him and Jones. Manning also said that he sees a lot of his former self in the Duke product, and that he’ll do whatever he can to help his development. “I talk to Daniel and I see so many similarities in the situation and how things are going and just what he’s trying to do, his personality,” Manning said.

Tyreek Hill, Chiefs could reopen extension talks. The news that Hill could be facing only a relatively brief suspension wasn’t the only positive development for him this week. We also heard that assuming Hill comes out of the investigation relatively cleanly, which is now expected, the Chiefs could reopen extension talks with him shortly. Shortly before the allegations of child abuse first broke, we heard that the two sides had been discussing a new contract.

 

5 Key NFL Stories: 6/16/19 – 6/23/19

Saints, Michael Thomas talking contract. The Saints and their star wideout have begun preliminary contract negotiations, but it’s unclear how much progress has been made. Thomas, who will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2020, is scheduled to make just $1.15MM in base pay this year, but assuming he and New Orleans come to terms, he will likely shoot to the top of the wide receiver market. That means he can expect a deal paying him at least $18MM per year with at least $41MM or so in fully guaranteed money. And the Saints appear to be eyeing that $18MM figure, whereas Thomas and his camp are shooting for an AAV of $22MM. Thomas’ original demand was apparently even higher than that, as we learned that he recently lowered his asking price to $22MM/year. There is still a gap to bridge, though the two sides hope to have this situation resolved by the time training camp opens next month.

Falcons, Julio Jones also talking contract. One of the reasons for the holdup in the Saints/Thomas negotiations may be the fact that the division-rival Falcons and their own star receiver are discussing a new deal. Jones is 30 and is under club control through the 2020 season, but he has been lobbying for more money since last offseason. And although teams are generally loathe to rework a contract that has two years or more left on it, Atlanta appears willing to make an exception for Jones. Whichever of Jones or Thomas ends up signing a contract first will probably become the highest-paid wideout in league history until the other one signs. Like Thomas and the Saints, Jones and the Falcons are hoping to put pen to paper before the start of training camp.

Alex Smith still wants to play. Until this week, we hadn’t heard much about Smith since January, when it was reported that Smith was likely to miss the entire 2019 season. Given the extensive nature of his horrific leg injury and the infection it caused, that news was not a big surprise. But Smith, 35, is walking again after spending four months in a wheelchair following his series of leg injuries, he has been able to play golf, and he is throwing passes at the Redskins’ facility. Right now, he is not thinking retirement and hopes to resume his playing career. A return to the field would probably represent the greatest accomplishment in Smith’s career, but he is up to the challenge. He acknowledges, though, that his comeback attempt will be quite lengthy and arduous.

John Elway not interested in owning Broncos. There have been plenty of rumors that, if the trustees of the Pat Bowlen Trust determine it’s in the best interests of the team to be sold rather than passed on to one of Bowlen’s children, franchise icon Elway could be the key figure in an ownership group that purchases the club. Those rumors picked up again in the wake of Bowlen’s passing, but Elway, who has served as the Broncos’ GM since 2011 and who won two Super Bowls with the club during a Hall-of-Fame career, summarily shot down those rumors this week. Elway said, “No. 1, I don’t have the money. I wish I did. I wish that wasn’t an issue. I’m happy with where I am. I’m proud to work for the organization and the opportunity they provide and so we’ll continue to work our tail off.”

Josh McCown calls it a career. McCown will largely be remembered for his high-character, intense work ethic and his willingness to help groom younger quarterbacks, but that’s not exactly a bad thing (especially considering he earned nearly $50MM over the course of his 17-year career). McCown announced his retirement this week, and he exits the league having posted a 23-53 career record as a starting quarterback. That’s not what he had in mind when the Cardinals selected him in the third round of the 2002 draft, but he did enjoy a few memorable moments on the field and will immediately become an NFL analyst for ESPN, though at least one team was interested in signing him as a backup/mentor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

5 Key Stories: 6/9/19 – 6/16/19

Texans, Patriots butt heads over GM candidate: The Texans’ hopes of landing Nick Caserio hit a wall this week. The Patriots not only resisted the overture but accused the Texans of tampering, taking issue with the timing of Houston’s GM switch. Bill O’Brien said neither he nor former Patriots exec-turned-Texans staffer Jack Easterby had contacted Caserio. Rather than the Texans powering through on this front, perhaps via trade, the franchise backed off and will not pursue Caserio any longer. However, it could be messy on the home front. Caserio is prepared to leave the Patriots, who may not be acting in the best faith in keeping him in New England. After all of this, the Texans may be prepared to go without a GM in 2019 and make another run at Caserio next year.

Extension agreements aplenty: Several teams moved to extend key players this week. The Chiefs led the way by doing deals for Mitchell Schwartz and Harrison Butker. Kansas City added a year to its standout right tackle’s deal, keeping him through 2021, and moved to retain its third-year kicker. The biggest-money extension of the week came out of New Orleans. The Saints and top sack artist Cameron Jordan agreed to terms on the defensive end’s third NFL contract — a three-year, $52.5MM re-up that locks in Jordan through 2023. Kenny Moore has now gone from UDFA to well-paid slot cornerback in a span of two years; the Colts gave him a deal that will pay him $30MM in new money. Lastly, it turns out Kyle Rudolph does have a post-2019 future in Minnesota. The Vikings completed yet another extension, this one keeping their tight end around long-term.

Holdouts taking shape: This became a busy week on the holdout front, with several key starters absent from teams’ mandatory minicamps. Jadeveon Clowney, Chris Jones, Yannick Ngakoue and Robbie Gould stayed away from their franchises’ camps this week. Clowney has been on the extension track for 2 1/2 years now, but his status does not appear to have contributed to Brian Gaine‘s firing. Jones broke out in 2018, becoming one of the NFL’s top interior pass rushers. The centerpiece of the Chiefs’ defensive line is entering the final year of a second-round contract, and talks have stalled. While Jalen Ramsey showed up for Jaguars minicamp, but with some pointed language about his contract, Ngakoue is absent. The former third-round pick is in a contract year. Kyle Shanahan is taking his franchise-tagged kicker’s absence in stride, and it doesn’t appear Gould will resurface with the 49ers any time soon.

Latest on Jets front office: Despite Joe Douglas having been college teammates with Todd McShay at Richmond, the new Jets GM will not lure the longtime analyst away from ESPN. After interviewing with his longtime friend, McShay will stick in his current post. However, one of the candidates Douglas beat out for the GM job — Bears exec Champ Kelly — is still in the running to join the Douglas-led front office. Former Browns GM Phil Savage is in the mix as well.

Broncos lose their owner: After a years-long battle with Alzheimer’s, Pat Bowlen died at 75. He had been the Broncos owner since 1984, helping lift the franchise to new heights. The Broncos had as many Super Bowl appearances (seven) as losing seasons during Bowlen’s tenure and became the NFL’s winningest home team in that span. Lauded for his work in helping the NFL secure crucial TV deals, Bowlen leaves behind a towering legacy. In the wake of his death, matters will shift to what is next in Denver. That has become an extensive legal matter, but the youngest of Pat’s children, Brittany Bowlen, has long been viewed as the preferred successor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

5 Key Stories: 6/2/19 – 6/9/19

Eagles make major investment: Carson Wentz became the first of the 2016 draftees-turned-franchise quarterbacks to sign an extension. The former No. 2 overall pick agreed to a four-year, $128MM (in new money) re-up that came with more than $100MM in guarantees and $66MM in full guarantees. The $32MM-per-year average and full guarantee figure placed Wentz in the top five among QBs, and the total guaranteed amount (which includes injury guarantees) is believed to be the most in NFL history. The Eagles are gambling on a quarterback who has finished the past two seasons injured, but Wentz’s 2017 season (and some aspects of his ’18 work) showed immense potential. The fallout from this deal has impacted the Cowboys and Rams, the other teams using 2016 QB picks as starters.

Texans abandon GM after one season: We have yet to hear much in the way of reasoning for Brian Gaine‘s ouster, but the defending AFC South champions cut bait in Year 2 of a five-year contract. Gaine, who had previously worked as a Texans exec under Rick Smith, oversaw an 11-5 season in 2018. It’s possible a lack of movement on the Jadeveon Clowney front contributed to this. Regardless, the Texans are moving on their GM search. Former Browns GM Ray Farmer and ex-Lions GM Martin Mayhew are the first candidates. But the franchise’s top choice appears to be longtime Patriots exec Nick Caserio, who worked with Bill O’Brien at one point.

Hours later, Jets make their choice: The Texans tried to interview Joe Douglas during their 2018 GM search. Shortly after their job became available again, the Jets landed their top choice. Long their preferred option, Douglas did not make it easy on them. The Jets reportedly doubled their initial salary offer, after Douglas declined them multiple times. They also look to have attempted to assuage his concerns about their ownership situation by doing a six-year deal. While Daniel Jeremiah will not be joining Douglas’ staff, another longtime analyst — ESPN’s Todd McShay — is in the mix.

Trent Williams unhappy with Redskins: At first, the 10th-year tackle was believed to be staying away from his team because of dissatisfaction with his through-2020 contract. Then, a more ominous report emerged indicating Williams wanted to leave the Redskins because of their handling of his recent medical procedure. It is possible both reasons are at the root of his absence, with the financial component not to be dismissed here. Either way, a seven-time Pro Bowler is at odds with his team — one that did not make notable offseason investments at tackle.

Gerald McCoy makes his decision: After three visits, the six-time Pro Bowler opted to remain in the NFC South. McCoy chose the Panthers and will face the Buccaneers twice this season. The 31-year-old lineman received a one-year, $8MM deal from Carolina. This may or may not have been the best offer. Only $4MM of the Panthers’ proposal was guaranteed, while the Ravens may have offered $8MM in guarantees. The Browns also viewed McCoy as an $8MM-per-year player — after the Bucs removed his $13MM 2019 cap number from their payroll — but “weren’t touching” the $10.25MM McCoy could receive via incentives.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

5 Key NFL Stories: 5/26/19 – 6/2/19

Ben Watson suspended four games: The Patriots were already looking thin at tight end with Rob Gronkowski‘s retirement, and they took another blow at the position this week when Watson was slapped with a four-game suspension. Watson says he took a banned substance when he thought he was retiring, which triggered his positive test when he then decided to come back. New England was aware of the pending suspension when they signed him, so it won’t effect his status with the team. For at least the first month of the season, the Pats will have guys like Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse atop the tight end depth chart.

Raiders sign Richie IncognitoThe Raiders made a gamble when they decided to sign the controversial guard. It’s a one-year, minimum salary deal, so there isn’t much of a financial risk. That being said, Incognito is more well known for his numerous off-field incidents than his on-field contributions at this point. Just a couple of days after the signing, we got word Incognito had been arrested yet again for a previously undisclosed incident. Incognito, of course, was also at the center of the league’s bullying scandal years ago. Raiders GM Mike Mayock acknowledged he could be facing league discipline, while also saying you can’t have “all Boy Scouts” on a team.

Joe Douglas emerges as favorite for Jets GM job: Over the course of the week, the Eagles exec has emerged as a strong favorite for the Jets’ general manager opening. Douglas is reportedly Adam Gase’s preferred candidate, and recent reports indicate it would be a major shock if Douglas doesn’t end up getting the job. We’ve heard the Jets plan on making a formal decision sometime early in the week, so we should know a lot more soon. New York has one more interview set for Monday with Champ Kelly, and we’ve heard recently Kelly could accept a job under Douglas in New York.

Broncos, Chris Harris rework contract: One of the biggest storylines in the league the past couple of months has surrounded Harris’ contract. Harris at one point demanded a new contract or a trade, and at one point it looked imminent that he was going to be traded. Ultimately the two sides agreed on a compromise, with Harris receiving a significant raise on his 2019 salary. He didn’t get the longterm extension he wanted, and will now enter free agency next offseason. Harris is reportedly seeking $15MM-plus annually, and he said a few days ago that he wants to be the highest-paid cornerback in the league this time next year. Harris is the last remaining member of Denver’s legendary ‘No Fly Zone’ secondary, and has made the Pro Bowl in four of the last five seasons.

Gerald McCoy takes visits: The biggest name on the free agent market has been drawing a lot of interest, and he’s seemingly narrowed down his list to three teams since being released by the Buccaneers on May 20th. McCoy is reportedly down to the Panthers, Browns, and Ravens, and took visits to all three teams. McCoy apparently wants to attend his new team’s mandatory minicamp, which would suggest he’ll be signing very soon. All three visits went well, and each team seems to think they have a good shot at landing him. We’ve heard McCoy could sign Monday or Tuesday of this upcoming week, so we should know more very soon.

5 Key NFL Stories: 5/19/19-5/26/19

Reuben Foster tears ACL: The Redskins linebacker went down in a heap during a recent OTA practice, and it was clear right away something was very wrong. Not long after, it was confirmed that Foster had torn his ACL and suffered additional damage to his leg as well. The Redskins claimed to oft-embattled Alabama product off waivers late last season after he was cut by the 49ers following another arrest. Charges were ultimately dropped and the league announced he wouldn’t be suspended, so the Redskins were counting on him playing a huge role on defense in 2019. He’ll now miss the entire season, leaving a huge hole on a Redskins team that has been the league’s most injury-riddled the past couple of seasons.

Buccaneers release Gerald McCoyThe longtime Bucs defensive tackle saw his time in Tampa Bay come to an end earlier this week when the team released him. Things had been heading toward a split for a while now, and the Buccaneers were reportedly shopping him. They were ultimately unable to find a trade partner, so they opted to release him to avoid paying him his $13MM salary. McCoy is now the biggest name left on the free agent market, and is drawing interest from a bunch of contenders. He’s already visited with the Browns, and will reportedly meet with the Ravens soon. One team already offered him a pact worth $11MM annually.

Buccaneers sign Ndamukong SuhThe Bucs didn’t waste much time replacing McCoy. While McCoy became the biggest name left available on the free agent market, Tampa Bay scooped up the previous biggest name. Suh landed a one-year deal worth $9.25MM, with incentives that can push it to $10MM. Suh signed with the Rams on a one-year deal last offseason, and didn’t quite play up to his standards in Los Angeles during the regular season. He turned it on in the postseason, and was a force during their playoff run. Suh is actually older than McCoy is at 32 now, but he showed during the playoffs he still has plenty left in the tank.

Patriots Extend Julian EdelmanNew England locked up a key piece, signing Edelman to a two-year extension. Edelman had been entering the final year of his current deal, so he’ll now be locked up through the 2021 season. The veteran receiver got $18MM in new money over the course of the two years. It’s been speculated that the deal will run to the end of Edelman’s career, and allow him to retire as a Patriot. Edelman, 33, was a huge part of the Patriots’ Super Bowl winning offense after he returned from his four-game suspension last year, racking up 850 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games.

Adam Jones retires: Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones decided to hang up his cleats earlier this week, ending an always interesting twelve-year career. Jones will perhaps best be remembered for his string of off-field incidents, but he was a dynamic player at his peak. The West Virginia product was drafted sixth overall by the Titans back in 2005. He missed the entire 2007 and 2009 seasons due to his off-field issues, but he was able to battle back each time. He was a quality starter for periods with both the Titans and Bengals, and was also an electric punt returner at times. He appeared in seven games and made two starts with the Broncos last year, which will end up being the last top of his career.

5 Key Stories: 5/12/19 – 5/19/19

Jets allow Mike Maccagnan to run wild in free agency, then fire him: Maccagnan’s four-plus-year run as Jets GM ended this week after CEO Christopher Johnson picked Adam Gase in an apparent power struggle. Given the fifth year that Todd Bowles wasn’t, Maccagnan doled out north of $175MM in contracts for the second straight offseason. One of those dealsLe’Veon Bell‘s — did not go over well with Gase, nor did Maccagnan’s limiting of his HC’s pre-draft input. New GM candidates have emerged, with Eagles exec Joe Douglas and NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah the top names, but Gase may end the offseason with 53-man roster control. It does not look like Peyton Manning will be a candidate.

Jets trade Darron Lee; is Leonard Williams next?: One of Maccagnan’s many underperforming draft picks, Lee is now a Chief. Gase quickly unloaded the former first-round pick for a 2020 sixth-rounder. The Jets passed on Lee’s fifth-year option. While a Lee move could be expected, with C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson entrenched as starters, Gase may have his eye on a higher-profile trade. Williams has now been mentioned as a player the interim GM would be interested in moving.

Patrick Peterson receives six-game ban: The Cardinals’ surefire All-Decade cornerback will have a tough time extending his Pro Bowl streak to nine seasons after this suspension, which is for a positive PED test. No appeal is coming, so the Cardinals will go well into October without their best player. Peterson, whose contract runs through 2020, also asked for guaranteed money to be moved into this season — perhaps to compensate for losses during this suspension. Steve Keim denied the request. This ban will void the remaining guarantees in Peterson’s deal.

Long, Levitre hang up their cleats: The Eagles’ defensive line became thinner Saturday; the former No. 2 overall pick retired rather than play a 12th season. One of the NFL’s top statesmen, Long enjoyed a rather notable late-career run. After nine playoff-less seasons in St. Louis, Long landed on back-to-back Super Bowl champions — playing auxiliary edge rusher roles with the Patriots and Eagles. The 34-year-old pass rusher also donated his entire 2017 salary to charity. Levitre retired after 10 seasons. The Falcons released him this offseason. Levitre’s career broke down rather interestingly. The Titans gave the former Bills draft choice a massive free agent deal in 2013, but he only played two years in Tennessee. Instead, Levitre resurfaced in Atlanta and played four seasons. The upper-echelon guard started in Super Bowl LI against Long’s Patriots.

Two reunions commence for UFA defenders: Both Jamie Collins and Pernell McPhee will return to where it began for them as NFLers, with Collins making his way back to the Patriots and McPhee rejoining the Ravens. The Pats shipped Collins to the Browns during their Super Bowl LI season, and he went on to sign what was then a high-water contract for off-ball linebackers. The Browns removed that deal from their books this year, and the former Patriots second-rounder spent more than two months in free agency. McPhee has struggled with injuries since his first Ravens run concluded, but after stints with the Bears and Redskins, the versatile linebacker will supply some depth to a Baltimore team that lost Mosley and Terrell Suggs in March. The Ravens also signed Shane Ray.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

5 Key NFL Stories: 4/28/19 – 5/5/19

Fifth-year option week unfolds: While some teams made their 2020 options known prior to the draft, many waited. Several franchises — the 49ers (Joshua Garnett), Bills (Shaq Lawson), Cardinals (Robert Nkemdiche), Jets (Darron Lee), Panthers (Vernon Butler), Raiders (Karl Joseph), Redskins (Josh Doctson), Saints (Eli Apple), Seahawks (Germain Ifedi), Steelers (Artie Burns), Titans (Jack Conklin) and Vikings (Laquon Treadwell) — opted this week not to extend their 2016 first-round picks’ contracts into 2020. Most of these were fairly straightforward decisions due to picks not panning out, but the Seahawks and Titans put their starting right tackles into contract years. The Eagles, as you may have expected, picked up Carson Wentz‘s option; the Bears and Lions pushed Leonard Floyd‘s and Taylor Decker‘s respective rookie contracts into 2020.

More developments in Tyreek Hill saga: The embattled Chiefs wide receiver went on the offensive this week (via a leaked letter from his defense attorney). The strategy appeared to be to shift blame for his 3-year-old son’s broken arm onto his fiancee, Crystal Espinal. Another report pointed to Hill, living in a hotel due to a non-contact order with the couple’s son, calling 911 because Espinal was passed out in the couple’s home. The Chiefs have banned Hill from their offseason program thus far, but instead of a quick release, it now looks like this could be a lengthy, messy process for just about everyone involved.

Raiders lose running back: Isaiah Crowell‘s Raiders tenure may never involve him wearing a game uniform. The veteran running back suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon while working out, and the Raiders placed the recently signed back on IR. While Marshawn Lynch was reportedly interested in coming back for a third season in Oakland, the Silver and Black opted to re-sign Doug Martin.

Post-draft roster bolstering commences: A year after finally receiving the long-term deal he coveted, Zach Brown had to again settle for a one-year agreement. After the Redskins released him, Brown caught on with the Eagles for $3MM. He will be a threat to join Nigel Bradham as a three-down linebacker. The Texans lost Tyrann Mathieu in free agency and Andre Hal to retirement; they added longtime Charger starter Jahleel Addae to their safety mix. The Colts did not opt to use their war chest of cap space on a running back before the draft, but Chris Ballard added Spencer Ware post-draft. Ballard was with the Chiefs when they initially acquired Ware.

Cowboys’ priorities coming into focus: The Cowboys appear to view new deals for Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper as front-burner tasks. Both are in contract years. Stephen Jones said the team would like to have its quarterback and top wide receiver re-signed by the time the season starts. As for Ezekiel Elliott? He appears to be behind his aforementioned teammates in this extension queue. Jones said no timetable exists for an Elliott re-up but reiterated any talks for a new deal will probably have to start at Todd Gurley‘s price.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.