Week In Review

5 Key Stories: 6/11/17 – 6/18/17

Ravens land a wide receiver. After surprisingly not adding a wideout during either free agency or the draft, Baltimore finally signed a pass-catcher last week, agreeing to terms on a two-year deal with former Chief Jeremy Maclin. Because Maclin was released, his addition won’t affect the Ravens’ 2018 compensatory picks. The Eagles were reportedly the runner-up for Maclin’s services, while the Bills and Browns also expressed interest. Maclin will earn $6MM in 2017.Greg Robinson (vertical)

A former No. 2 overall pick is traded. Offensive tackle Greg Robinson, the second selection in the 2014 draft, was dealt from the Rams to the Lions in exchange for a 2018 sixth-round pick, a trade that brings the (to this point) draft bust’s tenure with the Rams to an end. Robinson, selected over other offensive linemen such as Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan, and Zack Martin, had recently lost his starting job with Los Angeles. Detroit, meanwhile, also signed former Bill Cyrus Kouandjio in an effort to make up for the loss of left tackle Taylor Decker.

Saints lose a key offensive piece. The Lions aren’t the club that could be without its blindside protector for some time, as Saints left tackle Terron Armstead is down for 4-6 months after suffering a torn labrum in practice. Armstead missed nine games in 2016, so New Orleans is used to getting by without him, but his absence will undoubtedly be felt. Former first-round pick Andrus Peat, who’s recently lined up at guard, is a candidate to take over at tackle, as is 2017 No. 32 overall selection Ryan Ramczyk.Melvin Ingram (Vertical)

Chargers lock up their franchise player. Roughly a month before the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign long-term extensions, Los Angeles inked defensive end Melvin Ingram to a four-year, $66MM deal.Ingram, who’s managed 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons, will transition from outside linebacker to end in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley‘s scheme. With Ingram under contract, Kirk Cousins, Le’Veon Bell, and Trumaine Johnson are the only franchise players who don’t have extensions in place.

Eric Decker officially hits the market. The Jets released Decker last week after failing to find a trade partner, and Decker has now garnered interest from several clubs. Decker, who lives near Nashville, met with the Titans and has also reportedly been linked to the Browns. Meanwhile, the Broncos are not interested in a reunion with Decker, and the Eagles aren’t pursuing him, either.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

5 Key Stories: 6/4/17 – 6/11/17

Eric Decker‘s Jets tenure to end. Three seasons into the wide receiver’s five-year contract, the Jets are planning to move on from Decker — either by trade or release. The 30-year-old wideout missed most of last season due to hip and shoulder injuries but has been cleared to return to action, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Ravens have expressed interest. They also met with UFA Jeremy Maclin for two days this week, indicating the team’s desire for pass-catching help. Baltimore’s cap situation (less than $7MM in space) could be an issue, though. It’s possible the Jets wait until Maclin signs before moving on from Decker, however. Either way, two years after Gang Green saw both of its starting wideouts catch at least 12 touchdown passes, both Decker and Brandon Marshall will be gone. The Jets are in full-scale rebuilding mode, with just about every veteran the 2016 team employed no longer in the picture.

Taylor Decker‘s 2017 season could be shortened. After a standout rookie season, the Lions left tackle’s sophomore slate could be delayed. The 6-foot-7 edge blocker suffered a serious shoulder injury during OTAs and underwent surgery. After a four- to six-month recovery timetable emerged, Decker could be a candidate for the Reserve/PUP list. That would shelve him for the first six weeks of the Lions’ season. Decker played in all 17 Detroit games last season.

Odell Beckham Jr. contract rumors escalate. Heading into his fourth season, Beckham is still set to make less than $2MM in base salary despite turning in one of the best three-year stretches to open a career in NFL history. The former first-round pick, though, is under Giants control for two more years after they picked up his fifth-year option. Beckham stayed away from Giants OTAs due to the pursuit of a new deal, Schefter reports. Another report indicated Beckham is merely exercising his right to skip these voluntary workouts. Considering his age (24) and production, the three-time Pro Bowler would seemingly be in line to surpass Antonio Brown‘s Steelers extension from earlier this year and become the highest-paid receiver. Beckham could be in line for a contract exceeding $100MM in total value, but that fifth-year option worth $8.46MM could make matters tricky for now.

Patriots lock up Julian Edelman. Entering this summer as a contract-year player, Edelman will be tied to the Patriots through 2019 after a key transaction this week. The 31-year-old wideout signed a two-year, $11MM extension this week. So, Edelman’s reign as the Patriots’ top slot receiver could well match or exceed Wes Welker‘s six-year run. This contract comes with $9MM in guarantees and $7MM in full guarantees, and Edelman will have a chance to earn up to $3.5MM in incentives in 2019

Bills, Ravens make Jeremy Maclin interest known. Maclin spent most of the week in two eastern cities, trekking to both Buffalo and Baltimore for two-day visits. The recently released wideout left both summits without a deal and has not yet visited another team, nor has a third suitor emerged. The Eagles were connected to Maclin, but Doug Pederson — who has a history with the 29-year-old wideout in both Philadelphia and Kansas City — said the team is not interested in Maclin at this time. Despite the prospect of both Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown moving on after this season, Bruce Arians said the Cardinals are not interested. The Browns, who have more than $60MM in cap space, are likely to inquire about Maclin as well. Both the Bills and Ravens possess less than $13MM in space.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

5 Key Stories: 5/28/17 – 6/4/17

Chiefs release WR Jeremy Maclin. Kansas City’s decision to part ways with Maclin came as a surprise both for financial reasons and due to the lack of pass-catching depth on the Chiefs’ roster. KC could have designated Maclin as a post-June 1 release months ago, allowing him to hit the free agent market early while gaining cap space at the same date (June 2). Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, and rookie Jehu Chesson, meanwhile, now top the Chiefs’ depth chart at wideout. Bills running back LeSean McCoy is now attempting to lure Maclin to Buffalo.Calvin Pryor (vertical)

Jets trade a former first-rounder. New York shipped 2014 first-round safety Calvin Pryor to the Browns last week, re-acquiring linebacker Demario Davis in return. Pryor, whom the Jets reportedly wanted out of their locker room, will now try to restart his career on a rebuilding Cleveland roster. Davis, for his part, is now back with the club with which he spent the 2012-15 campaigns, but he may not make the roster without accepting a pay reduction.

Seahawks pass on Colin Kaepernick. While Seattle had genuine interest in adding Kaepernick as a backup to starter Russell Wilson, the Hawks aren’t giving Kaepernick a roster spot right now. Head coach Pete Carroll lauded Kaepernick, indicating that the former 49ers quarterback can still be a starter in the NFL. But reports indicated that the two sides were apart on money, as Kaepernick may be looking for a larger payday than the Seahawks are willing to provide.Dennis Pitta

Two Ravens go down. Fresh off a comeback season during which he led all NFL tight ends in receptions, Baltimore’s Dennis Pitta dislocated his hip for the third time in four years, a devastating injury which could lead to the end of Pitta’s career. While the veteran tight end hasn’t yet made a decision on his future, it’s difficult to imagine the 31-year-old will continue the risk of playing. Nickel cornerback Tavon Young, who shined during his rookie campaign in 2016, also suffered an serious injury, an ACL tear which will likely end his season before it began.

Christine Michael finds a home. One month after being cut by the Packers, Michael landed with the Colts last week. Indianapolis marks the fifth club that’s employed Michael over the past two years, joining the Seahawks, Cowboys, Redskins, and the aforementioned Packers. While the Colts are counting on Michael to play a lead back role, he’s landed in a favorable position, as Josh Ferguson, Robert Turbin, and rookie Marlon Mack represent Michael’s only competition to serve as Frank Gore‘s backup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

5 Key Stories: 5/21/17 – 5/28/17

Patriots restructure Gronk, add another wideout. Even coming off injury, Rob Gronkowski now has the chance to be the league’s highest-paid tight end in 2017 after New England agreed to add new incentives to his contract. The maximum value of his deal is now $10.75MM for the upcoming season, and that total can be achieved through a variety of incentives that include playing time thresholds, receiving statistics, and an All Pro nod. Meanwhile, the Patriots also inked free agent wide receiver Andrew Hawkins to a one-year deal. He’ll compete with Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, and Danny Amendola for playing time.Victor Cruz (vertical)

Victor Cruz finds a home. Three months after being released by the Giants, Cruz landed a one-year pact with the Bears, where he’ll join a wide receiver corps that already includes Cameron Meredith, Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, and Kendall Wright. Cruz, 30, will now try to recapture the production he posted from 2011-13, when he averaged more than 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns per year. Before signing with Chicago, Cruz also drew interest from the Ravens and Jaguars.

Colin Kaepernick closer to signing? Kaepernick met with the Seahawks last week, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com subsequently reported that a deal between Kaepernick and Seattle is “likely to happen”. Kaepernick would become Russell Wilson‘s clear-cut backup, supplanting Trevone Boykin, who’s been arrested twice already this offseason. For what it’s worth, fellow free agent quarterback Austin Davis also came in for a meeting with the Seahawks.Kirk Cousins (Vertical)

Redskins could franchise Kirk Cousins again. Washington will pay Cousins nearly $24MM in 2017 as a result of using the franchise tender for a second consecutive season, but that doesn’t mean the club won’t deploy the tag again in 2018. Team president Bruce Allen admitted the franchise tag will be an option next spring, even though that would mean handing Cousins roughly $35MM for the 2018 campaign.

Jets still shopping Sheldon Richardson. Gang Green is still trying to rid itself of Richardson, and reportedly offered him to the Seahawks, Buccaneers, and Colts without finding a taker. Richardson is clearly talented, but that wasn’t on display last season, as he posted only 1.5 sacks. Off-field concerns also complicate his stock, as does his contract situation — he’s only signed through 2017, at a cost of more than $8MM.

Photos courtesy of Pro Football Rumors on Instagram and USA Today Sports Images. 

5 Key Stories: 5/14/17 – 5/21/17

Ryan Fitzpatrick lands in Tampa Bay. After struggling through a dreadful season with the Jets in 2016, Fitzpatrick was going to be hard-pressed to find a starting job on the open market. Instead, the 34-year-old signed with the Buccaneers, with whom he’ll be a clear backup to starter Jameis Winston. Fitzpatrick will earn $3MM on a one-year deal with the Bucs, but has a chance to bring in as much as $5MM.Colin Kaepernick

Seattle interested in Colin Kaepernick. The Buccaneers didn’t consider Kaepernick before inking Fitzpatrick, but the Seahawks are eyeing the 29-year-old signal-caller, whom they prefer to fellow free agent Robert Griffin III. Kaepernick would seemingly be a solid fit behind Russell Wilson, who wouldn’t have any qualms about Seattle signing the former 49ers QB. The Cowboys, meanwhile, aren’t considered a fit for Kaepernick.

Eagles sign a Blount force. Despite the Patriots placing a May 9 tender on free agent LeGarrette Blount, the veteran running back has found a new home in Philadelphia. Blount, 30, will take in $1.25MM in base salary and can earn another $1.55MM via incentives. Both the Giants and Cardinals reportedly made offers to Blount before he signed with the Birds. With Blount in town, Ryan Mathewsroster spot is now tenuous (at best).Jason McCourty (Vertical)

Jason McCourty signs with a rebuilding club. Instead of heading to contender after being cut loose by the Titans, McCourty latched on with the Browns last week, signing a two-year deal worth $6MM ($2MM guaranteed). At age-29, McCourty will be an elder statesman on a Cleveland team in the midst of a rebuild. The Patriots also had interest in McCourty, and that link was apparently mutual.

Steelers release Ladarius Green after one year. Although Green was effective when on the field in Pittsburgh (16.9 yards per catch), he simply couldn’t overcome his health issues — concussions and an ankle issue — in order to contribute on a consistent basis. The Steelers cut bait on Green just one season into a four-year, $20MM deal, a move that leaves them north of $3.5MM in dead money. Green, still only 26 years old, has no plans to retire.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

6 Key Stories: 5/7/17 – 5/14/17

Patriots deploy tender on LeGarrette Blount. Thinking outside the box as usual, New England utilized a May 9 tender on Blount, ensuring that it will reap a compensatory pick if Blount signs elsewhere. Blount, who had reportedly been nearing a deal prior to the tender, has until July 22 to reach a deal with another club. If he doesn’t sign by then, the Patriots control his rights. Rival teams are now trying to “navigate” the compensatory pick process in order to land Blount.Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon denied reinstatement. The NFL refused Gordon’s attempt to re-enter the league, but the Browns receiver is eligible to re-apply in the fall. Gordon, 26, originally applied for reinstatement in March. Although he hasn’t played sine 2014 (and hasn’t been effective since 2013), Gordon may be welcomed back by Cleveland if Roger Goodell & Co. allow his reinstatement. Gordon’s agent terminated their relationship several weeks ago, so Gordon is currently without representation.

Bills find a new general manager. Having fired Doug Whaley one day after the conclusion of the draft, Buffalo hired former Panthers executive Brandon Beane as its new GM. Beane has a working history with Bills head coach Sean McDermott, and is expected to have final say over the club’s 53-man roster (although he and McDermott will work closely on personnel issues). The Bills have also poached ex-Dolphins staffer Joe Schoen and named him assistant general manager, while incumbent contract negotiator Jim Overdorf could be on the chopping block.

Victor Cruz market heating up. While Cruz had garnered scant free agent interest since being released by the Giants earlier this year (only the Panthers had set up a visit), the veteran wide receiver was linked to three clubs in the span of two days last week. The Jaguars and Bears are organizing meetings with Cruz, while the Ravens also have interest in the 30-year-old wideout.Daryl Washington (vertical)

Cardinals cut ties with Daryl Washington. Unlike Gordon, Washington was granted reinstatement, but he won’t be playing for Arizona in 2017. The Cardinals officially released Washington, who hasn’t been on the field since 2013. While Arizona had interest in retaining Washington, the two sides apparently couldn’t agree on a deal. Washington, 30, had been due $2.9MM next season.

Michael Floyd finds a landing spot. More than two months after the opening of free agency, Floyd finally landed a contract, agreeing to a one-year pact with the Vikings. The new contract is reportedly worth $1.5MM, but Floyd can earn up to $6MM via incentives. Floyd, who was charged with DUI last year, is likely to serve a suspension during the 2017 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

5 Key Stories: 4/30/17 – 5/7/17

Jay Cutler, broadcaster. After months of retirement rumors, Cutler officially hung up his cleats last week in order to sign with FOX Sports as a color commentator. Cutler, 34, will join Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis in calling games each and every Sunday. The career change is permanent, says Cutler, although he did admit he could feel some regret down the line. Cutler had negotiations with both the Jets and Texans before calling it a career.Jamaal Charles (Vertical)

Jamaal Charles stays in the AFC West. After nine seasons in Kansas City, Charles will now spend the 2017 campaign in Denver after agreeing to a one-year deal with the Broncos. The 30-year-old back will earn a base value of $1MM, but can bring in another $2.75MM through roster bonuses and incentives. Charles joins a backfield that also includes C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker, and he admits he isn’t sure what his role will be with the Broncos (although passing down work seems likely).

Fifth-year option decisions come due. Clubs had until May 3 to exercise or decline 2018 options on players drafted in 2014, and there were certainly some surprises among the calls. The Bills opted not to pick up wide receiver Sammy Watkins‘ option, presumably based on his lengthy injury history, while the Jaguars exercised the option for quarterback Blake Bortles despite his recent struggles (and the ~$19MM price tag). Follow every decision with PFR’s 2018 Fifth-Year Option Tracker.LeGarrette Blount (Vertical)

Giants and Lions in on LeGarrette Blount. Any chance of Blount returning to New England seemed to have evaporated when the Patriots signed Bills restricted free agent Mike Gillislee, but Blount’s market seems to be heating up. Detroit is interested in the veteran running back after not selecting an RB in the draft, while the Giants are still eyeing Blount even after adding Clemson’s Wayne Gallman. Last week, PFR’s Zach Links looked at the eight best fits for the 30-year-old Blount.

Consistent questions on Reuben Foster. Although the 49ers reportedly would have been comfortable selecting Foster with the No. 3 overall pick, concerns are still arising about the former Alabama linebacker. Foster’s latest surgery “didn’t take,” and San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan admitted Foster could miss the 2017 campaign in a worst-case scenario.

Photos courtesy of Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

5 Key Stories: 4/23/17 – 4/30/17

Teams move up for quarterbacks. Three clubs made traded up the draft board to acquire long-term options under center on Thursday night, as the Bears moved up to No. 2 for North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, the Chiefs went to No. 10 for Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech), and the Texans came up to No. 12 for Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. Each of the three clubs sacrificed a good deal, as both Kansas City and Houston gave up 2018 first-round selections, while Chicago may have been bidding against itself to move up one spot. None of Trubisky, Mahomes, or Watson is entering training camp as a starter, but that could certainly change as the season progresses.DeShone Kizer (vertical)

Browns land a quarterback, as well. Cleveland sat tight at No. 1 overall and selected Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett, and the club eventually made two other picks in the first round: Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers and Miami tight end David Njoku. After reportedly discussing trades for veteran quarterbacks during Round 1, the Browns ultimately drafted Notre Dame signal-caller DeShone Kizer during the second round, and could allow him to start during his rookie campaign. In Round 6, Cleveland picked up Florida’s Caleb Brantley, who is facing assault charges (but may not keep him on the roster).

Gareon Conley comes off the board in Round 1. Despite being accused of sexual assault in the week leading up to the draft, Conley was still drafted in the first round, as the Raiders selected him 24th overall. Conley has strongly refuted the allegations, and spoke with representatives of all 32 NFL clubs before the draft got underway. Initial reports suggested the Ohio State product could fall to the third round, but Oakland will have acquired a value pick if the accusations Conley prove unfounded.Doug Whaley

Bills fire GM Doug Whaley. Just one day after the conclusion of the draft, the Bills fired Whaley, who had been running the club’s front office since 2013. The move was somewhat expected, as reports had indicated major changes could be coming to the Bills’ personnel staff. New head coach Sean McDermott has reportedly taken the lead in much of Buffalo’s machinations recently.

Veteran backs find new homes. A trio of running backs found landing spots this week, as the Saints signed Adrian Peterson to a two-year deal, the Raiders formally acquired Marshawn Lynch (and signed him to a new contract), and the Patriots landed Mike Gillislee after the Bills declined to match New England’s offer sheet. New Orleans, notably, selected another running back in the draft (Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara) despite now employing both Peterson and Mark Ingram.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

5 Key Stories: 4/16/17 – 4/23/17

Patriots have a busy week. Bill Belichick & Co. were very active during the past seven days, and their most notable move was signing Bills restricted free agent Mike Gillislee to an offer sheet with the intention of adding him to an already crowded backfield. Buffalo has until Monday to match the Patriots’ terms. Meanwhile, fellow RFA Malcolm Butler officially signed his tender, meaning he can now be traded (the Pats may want to wrap up any swap by draft day). Elsewhere on the roster, New England extended running back James White, had wide receiver Danny Amendola take a paycut, and waived guard Tre’ Jackson.Mitch Trubisky Instagram

Browns still thinking at No. 1. While most observers expect Cleveland to use the first overall pick on Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett, the Browns are reportedly open to spending the No. 1 selection on UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky. That could be due to franchise owner Jimmy Haslam, who is apparently pressing the team’s decision-makers to land a signal-caller. Another option for the Browns could include trading up from the No. 12 pick into the No. 5 or No. 6 range with the hope of landing Trubisky. Cleveland doesn’t expect to trade for a veteran quarterback such as Jimmy Garoppolo or A.J. McCarron, however.

Reuben Foster fails drug test. Once expected to be a surefire top-10 pick, Foster has had a nightmare of a predaft process. During the combine, Foster got into a dust-up with a hospital worker, though his camp has brushed it off as little more than a miscommunication. There are also question marks about the Alabama linebacker’s surgically-repaired shoulder and his upbringing. Finally, Foster failed a drug test at the combine, but has chalked up the failure to a diluted sample. Based on talent alone, Foster should still be an early draft choice, but numerous issues could push him down the board.Marshawn Lynch (vertical)

Veteran backs nearing resolutions? The Raiders want to complete a Marshawn Lynch trade before the draft begins on Thursday, but the two sides need to agree on a restructured contact before any deal will be consummated. Lynch is due $9MM in 2017, but Oakland waits him to play for roughly a third of that total. Free agent Adrian Peterson, meanwhile, is reportedly willing to play for $5MM or less in the “right situation.” The Giants are among the clubs keeping tabs on both Peterson and fellow FA LeGarrette Blount.

Panthers extend Kawann Short. Carolina locked up Short, one of its more talented defenders, to a five-year, $80MM deal that makes him the fifth-highest-paid interior defender in the league on an annual basis. Short, 28, will reportedly secure $35MM in full guarantees which includes a $20MM signing bonus. In 2016, Short played on nearly three-quarters of the Panthers’ defensive snaps, posting six sacks and grading as the league’s No. 3 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus.

Photos courtesy of Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.

5 Key Stories: 4/9/17 – 4/16/17

Beast Mode-to-Oakland heats up. After meeting with the Raiders last week, retired running back Marshawn Lynch has officially started the reinstatement process. The Seahawks are now expected to trade Lynch to Oakland, and while he doesn’t need to be reinstated for a deal to go through, he would need to formally apply for reinstatement before suiting up. Any trade is contingent on Lynch first working out a new deal with the Raiders, something that the two sides are working on now.Richard Sherman (vertical)

Seahawks drop Richard Sherman price. While Seattle is set to trade one franchise icon, the club could soon send Sherman away, as well. After originally asking for “a very good player” plus a high draft pick in exchange for Sherman, the Seahawks are now looking for a first-round pick in the upcoming draft plus a conditional mid-round choice in 2018. That ask could entice more teams to join the running for Sherman, who so far has only been linked to the Patriots (who are now not expected to deal for him).

Jonathan Hankins finds a home. After sitting on the free agent market for more than a month, Hankins finally landed a three-year, $30MM deal with the Colts. The Giants, notably, were offering only $28MM over a four-year term, making the decision to head to Indianapolis an easy one for Hankins. Hankins had been the top player who still remained unsigned, and now only three of PFR’s top 50 free agents are still on the board: Adrian Peterson, Perry Riley, and Ryan Clady.Mitch Trubisky Instagram

Browns still deciding at No. 1? While 84% of PFR readers believe Cleveland will ultimately select edge rusher Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, the club may have not yet made up its mind. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky is still in the conversation to be drafted first, and the Browns are reportedly split between the UNC signal-caller and Garrett, the latter of whom is regarded as 2017’s best overall prospect. Head coach Hue Jackson, for what it’s worth, prefers that Cleveland goes with Garrett.

Pats, 49ers play the RFA game. The Patriots are seemingly more involved in the restricted free agent market than any other club, and this year is no different. Last week, New England hosted division rival running backs Mike Gillislee (Bills) and Damien Williams (Dolphins) in addition to Giants defensive end Kerry Wynn. San Francisco, meanwhile, made an offer to Seahawks offensive tackle Garry Gilliam, and although Gilliam rejected the initial proposal, the two sides are expected to keep talking.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images and Pro Football Rumors on Instagram.