Week In Review

5 Key NFL Stories: 8/5/18 – 8/12/18

Bills acquire WR Corey Coleman. Buffalo picked up Coleman, a first-round pick in the 2016 draft, from Cleveland for next-to-nothing, as Cleveland will reap just a 2020 seventh-round pick. Coleman hadn’t done much in his first two NFL campaigns, but that’s largely due to freak injuries — a broken hand in each season — that limited his overall production. The Bills, meanwhile, were (and still are) fielding one of the league’s worst receiving corps, meaning Coleman should be favorite for first-team snaps alongside Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones.

Dez Bryant-to-Browns saga continues. After reports emerged that Bryant was “not seriously interested” in joining Cleveland, Browns general manager John Dorsey told reporters the veteran wideout was not returning his calls. Later that night, Bryant tweeted that he’d visit the Browns this week, and now a meeting has been set (likely for Thursday). Both Jarvis Landry and rookie wide receiver Antonio Callaway performed well in the Browns’ first preseason game, but Cleveland could use another pass-catcher after dealing Coleman/while waiting for Josh Gordon to return.

Redskins lose RB Derrius Guice. Guice, a second-round selection in this year’s draft, had been scheduled to serve as Washington’s top running back, but he’ll now wait until 2019 to get on the field after suffering a torn ACL in the Redskins’ first preseason contest. The Redskins have depth: Rob Kelley is now slated to be the club’s starter, Chris Thompson is an elite passing back, and 2017 fourth-rounder Samaje Perine is still around. But Washington could consider adding a free agent, and PFR readers think DeMarco Murray (who’d be coming out of retirement) would be the best fit.

Patriots give Tom Brady extra incentives. Brady will earn $1MM each for finishing as a top-five quarterback in five statistical categories (passing yards, touchdown passes, passer rating, yards per attempt and completion percentage). Because Brady was a top-five signal-caller in each of those categories in 2017, his new incentives are considered “likely to be earned,” meaning they’ll count on the Patriots’ salary cap immediately. New England also converted $10MM of Brady’s $14MM 2018 base salary into a signing bonus — that move will not only get Brady more cash immediately, but increase his 2019 cap charge by $5MM.

Jets open to trading Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater was excellent in Gang Green’s first preseason game, completing seven-of-eight passes for 85 yards and one touchdown. But third overall pick Sam Darnold was outstanding as well, and if the USC product earns the Jets’ starting quarterback job, Bridgewater would likely be the club’s third-stringer behind Josh McCown. A trade could make sense for all sides, then, although New York might wait to see if any league-wide quarterback injury causes a rival team to send a high draft choice in exchange for Bridgewater.

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5 Key NFL Stories: 7/29/18 – 8/5/18

Vikings extend Stefon Diggs. Diggs is just the latest would-be free agent to receive a new deal from Minnesota, joining the likes of defensive end Danielle Hunter and linebacker Eric Kendricks. After averaging 67 receptions, 824 yards, and five touchdowns over his first three NFL seasons, Diggs received a five-year, $72MM extension that contains $16.907MM in full guarantees, including a $15MM signing bonus. On an annual basis, Diggs is now the NFL’s ninth-highest-paid wideout, and his new deal makes fellow receiver Adam Thielen‘s three-year, $19.246MM pact look especially affordable.

Safeties get signed. Kenny Vaccaro finally landed a contract last week, although it unfortunately took a season-ending injury to fellow defensive back Johnathan Cyprien for a deal to get done. The Titans searched for safety help after losing Cyprien to a torn ACL, and Vaccaro led a workout session that also included Mike Mitchell, Lardarius Webb, and Steven Terrell. Former 49ers safety Eric Reid was also supposed to audition for Tennessee, but a delayed flight forced him to cancel his Titans visit. Vaccaro, meanwhile, inked a one-year contract and will presumably start opposite Kevin Byard in Tennessee’s secondary. He wasn’t the only safety who found a new deal last week, as veteran Corey Graham re-upped with the Eagles.

Patriots make a change at wide receiver. Jordan Matthews has been considered something near a lock for New England’s 53-man roster, but an injury forced him off the squad. Indeed, while there was initially some confusion as to whether Matthews was released or placed on injured reserve, the Patriots later announced that he’d officially been cut. In his stead, New England signed former Bronco/Jet/Titan Eric Decker, who figures to see action in the slot, at least until Julian Edelman returns from suspension.

Packers lose a defender. Green Bay got bad news last week, as the club learned starting linebacker Jake Ryan will miss the 2018 campaign with a torn ACL. Ryan, who had started 27 games over three seasons after the Packers selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, was expected to play inside next to Blake Martinez. After Ryan went down, Green Bay reportedly considered adding a veteran such as NaVorro Bowman, but no appear set to give youngsters like third-round rookie Oren Burks more playing time.

Brandon LaFell hits free agency. The Bengals rarely release veterans before their contracts expire (they currently have the fourth-least dead money in the league), but LaFell was standing in the way of younger and cheaper options on Cincinnati’s wide receiver depth chart. With LaFell out of the picture, the Bengals have moved 2017 No. 9 overall pick John Ross into the starting lineup opposite A.J. Green, while Tyler Boyd will man the slot. Josh Malone, Auden Tate, and Cody Core are among the other Cincinnati pass-catchers vying for opportunities.

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5 Key NFL Stories: 7/22/18 – 7/29/18

Todd Gurley resets the running back market. The Rams still haven’t extended All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, but they have locked up parts of their offensive core. After inking receiver Brandin Cooks to a new deal earlier this month, Los Angeles signed Gurley to a four-year extension that will keep him in southern California through 2023. The deal is worth $57.5MM in total, and Gurley’s new average annual value of $14.375MM is the new league-high for a running back on a multi-year pact. Gurley’s deal will now surely affect negotiations for other running backs such as David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott, each of whom will hit free agency within the next few years.

Offensive tackles get paid. Three left tackles — the Titans’ Taylor Lewanthe Falcons’ Jake Matthews, and the Seahawks’ Duane Brown — each received new five-year contracts last week, and both deals should help propel the offensive tackle market forward. Lewan, notably, will collect an average salary of $16MM annually, a new high-water mark for tackles (Nate Solder got $15.5MM/year from the Giants this offseason). Although Lewan had skipped minicamp, he reported for Tennessee’s training camp last week, which may have sped up negotiations.

Julio Jones get a raise. Although talks looked on the verge of a breakdown at one point, the Falcons finally relented and agreed to bump up Jones’ compensation for the 2018 campaign. Jones, who had not reported for many of Atlanta’s offseason activities and was threatening to skip training camp, received a $4.4MM signing bonus. The reworking will give Jones more money for the upcoming campaign, but won’t overly affect the Falcons’ books for years to come. Jones, 29, is signed through the 2020 season.

Chargers’ bad luck continues. The Chargers just can’t seem to get away from the injury bug, and cornerback Jason Verrett has been especially afflicted. Verrett, who missed most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons with knee injuries, will be sidelined for the entire 2018 campaign after tearing his Achilles during a conditioning drill. A former first-round pick, Verrett will have only played in 25 of a possible 80 games by the time the 2018 season is over. Verrett will reach free agency next spring, and his injury issues will almost assuredly affect his next contract.

A safety gets signed! There was finally movement in the safety market last week, as the Cardinals signed Tre Boston to a one-year deal. The pact is worth just $1.5MM, and Boston can max out at $3MM overall. It’s a cheap contract for a 26-year-old defensive back coming off the best season of his career, but safeties have had an especially difficult time getting signed this offseason. Eric Reid (whose status may be affected by his national anthem protest stance) and Kenny Vaccaro are among the best back end defenders still available.

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5 Key NFL Stories: 7/15/18 – 7/22/18

Franchise tag extension tag deadline passes. Four franchise-tagged players — Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, and Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner — all failed to reach long-term deals with their respective teams by last Monday’s deadline, meaning they’ll each play out the 2018 campaign on a one-year fixed price. It’s the second consecutive tag for Bell, and his agent says the upcoming season will likely be Bell’s last in Pittsburgh. Lawrence, for his part, is not open to spending the 2019 season on the franchise tag.

Rams extend WR Brandin Cooks. Los Angeles sent a first-round pick to the Patriots in exchange for Cooks earlier this year, and now they’ve locked up him for the long haul. Cooks agreed to a five-year, $81MM extension last week, and his $16.2MM new money average ties him with DeAndre Hopkins for third among wideouts, behind only Antonio Brown and Mike Evans. His total guarantee of $20.5MM, however, ranks just 11th among pass-catchers.

Darrelle Revis hangs up his cleats. A surefire Hall of Famer, Revis was not only arguably the greatest corner of his generation, but one of the more astute contract negotiators in the league. Never afraid to hold out or take a risky — but possibly lucrative deal — Revis ultimately earned roughly $125MM over the course of his career. Revis, a former Jet, Buccaneer, Patriot, and Chief, retires with seven Pro Bowls, four first-team All-Pro nods, and one Super Bowl under his belt.

NFL rescinds national anthem policy. The NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement on Thursday indicating the league’s new anthem policy — originally endorsed by owners in May — will not be enforced for the time being. The policy, which called for players to either stand for the national anthem or remain in the locker room, could have led to fines for teams. The NFLPA’s grievance against the policy has also been put on hold.

Andrew Luck ready for training camp. After missing the entire 2017 season with a shoulder issue, Luck won’t be forced to start camp on the physically unable to perform list, an excellent sign of his health. Although he’ll likely take some days off over the next few weeks, Luck won’t have any severe restrictions on his workout and throwing regimen.

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5 Key NFL Stories: 7/8/18 – 7/15/18

LeSean McCoy faces domestic abuse allegations. McCoy’s ex-girlfriend, Delicia Gordon, has accused the Bills running back of being involved in an incident which left her with brutal injuries. While McCoy wasn’t in the same state when Gordon was the victim of a home invasion, Gordon is claiming McCoy orchestrated the attack. McCoy has hired a defense attorney with experience in NFL cases, and it’s possible he’ll be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list while the case plays out.

DeMarco Murray announces retirement. Despite taking multiple offseason visits, Murray surprisingly decided to hang up his cleats — although not everyone is sure he’ll stick with retirement. As of last week, reports emerged that Murray was hoping to land with a new team soon, and a number of clubs looked like obvious fits. He met with the Lions, Seahawks, and Dolphins during the offseason, but declined an opportunity to work out for the Saints.

Darren Sproles will play one more season. Just this afternoon, Sproles announced that he’ll play just more season before heading into retirement. Sproles, now 35, had hinted at retirement at this time last year, but after his 2017 campaign was ended by both a torn ACL and a broken arm, the veteran running back decided to come back for one more year. He’ll handle passing game work in an Eagles backfield that also includes Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and others.

2018 supplemental draft results. Although the NFL’s supplemental draft had been a boring affair in recent years, that wasn’t the case in 2018. The Giants sacrificed a 2019 third-round pick in order to land Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal, while the Redskins used a 2019 sixth-rounder on Virginia Tech corner Adonis Alexander. Mississippi State defensive back Brandon Bryant, meanwhile, went undrafted but has since landed with the Jets.

Marcell Dareus sued twice for sexual assault. Dareus is facing not one, but two sexual assault civil suits. Both women claim Dareus had sex with them after they’d fallen asleep or blacked out, while one woman says Dareus transmitted an STD. So far, no criminal charges have been pressed, but Dareus could still be subject to NFL discipline regardless of the legal outcomes of his cases.

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5 Key Stories: 7/1/18 – 7/8/18

Kam Chancellor is walking away from the game: But the Seahawks safety is not necessarily retiring. He revealed doctors have not seen sufficient improvement to green-light a return to the gridiron. As a result, Chancellor declared he will no longer pursue a comeback. The difference in the 30-year-old perennial Pro Bowler retiring and not playing again is big in this case, since Chancellor’s August 2017 extension guarantees him more than $10MM going forward due to injury. Nevertheless, the Seahawks are now to be without another Legion of Boomer. However, this won’t affect how the team will proceed with Earl Thomas.

Suspensions come down for NFC starters: Reuben Foster evaded significant legal trouble this offseason when his cases for domestic violence and marijuana possession were dismissed, but the 49ers linebacker will still be suspended for two games. Foster was suspended for violating the league’s personal-conduct and substance-abuse policies. Rams guard Jamon Brown will as well, with the starting interior lineman set to be out until Week 3. Packers running back Aaron Jones was also part of the pre-July 4 suspension news dump. Both Brown and Jones were deemed guilty of violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Julian Edelman will miss a second straight September: Tom Brady‘s go-to wide receiver will miss another opening month after his PED suspension appeal failed. The Patriots will be without their slot presence in September. Edelman did not fight the results of this appeal — one centered around paperwork and documentation — the way he did the initial ban, however. Edelman, who missed all of last season due to injury, will miss games against the Texans, Lions, Dolphins and Jaguars.

Cardinals GM popped for DUI:
NFL executives have been known to worry about player misconduct on and around July 4, but the Cardinals will be dealing with their top decision-maker’s actions that day. Steve Keim was cited for driving under the influence on Independence Day. The GM was booked and released that night, and he apologized for the sequence. Keim could face NFL discipline for this citation.

NFL attempting to force end to Colin Kaepernick case: Long mired in the former 49ers quarterback’s collusion grievance centered around his unique unemployment, the NFL is trying to put a premature end to these proceedings. The league is asking the judge in this case to issue a summary judgment, and if the judge rules in favor of the NFL, the case will end. By demanding to see further proof teams colluded against Kaepernick as a free agent, the NFL is hoping the quarterback’s attorneys will “put their cards on the table.” However, Kaepernick’s legal team isn’t expected to have a hard time making the argument to continue this case.

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5 Key NFL Stories: 6/24/18 – 7/1/18

NFL officially suspends Jameis Winston. As expected, the league banned Winston for the first three games of the season after he allegedly groped an Uber driver in 2016. Winston has denied any wrongdoing, but did accept some responsibility for the incident in a public statement. The suspension, which will cost Winston more than $1MM, will force him out of action against the Saints, Eagles, and Steelers, leaving veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick to start in his stead. If Winston violates that NFL’s personal conduct policy again, he could face a permanent ban from the league.

Vikings extend Danielle Hunter. After extending fellow defensive end Everson Griffen last summer, the Vikings have also handed a new deal to Hunter, inking him to a five-year, $72MM pact. Hunter’s $14.4MM annual salary will place him 11th among rushers, which given his age and contract leverage, makes Hunter’s deal extremely team-friendly. While full details have yet to be divulged (Hunter received $40MM in guarantees, but those almost certainly aren’t full guarantees), Hunter did receive a $15MM singing bonus. Up next on Minnesota’s docket? Finding new contracts for receiver Stefon Diggs and/or linebacker Anthony Barr.

Tamba Hali likely to retire. While he hasn’t made a final decision, Hali sounds incredibly likely to hang up his cleats. “I don’t want to focus too much on football,” Hali said. I don’t see myself getting back into football. I see myself being involved with the Chiefs somehow, maybe as a specialist being able to teach the guys. I don’t want to lie to myself. I think the time has come.” Hali, 34, only managed to appear in five games after an injury limited him for the majority of the season. He hasn’t posted double-digit sacks in five years, and hasn’t generated any known free agent interest since being released by Kansas City in March.

Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham suspended. The defending champs will play one game without a starting linebacker, as Bradham was banned a single contest due to a 2016 case in which he was charged with aggravated assault. Although Bradham avoided jail time for the incident, the NFL often suspends players regardless of legal outcome. Bradham signed a five-year, $40MM extension with Philadelphia after posting arguably the best season of his career in 2017. Without Bradham in tow, the Eagles will turn to either Corey Nelson, Kamu Grugier-Hill, or Nate Gerry to step into the starting lineup.

Bucs release guard J.R. Sweezy. Only two seasons into a five-year deal, Sweezy was cut loose by Tampa Bay last week. While health questions marks kept Sweezy off the field in 2016, he did manage to post 14 starts a season ago. Still, the Bucs could now use the money saved by releasing Sweezy to extend one of their young players such as linebacker Kwon Alexander or offensive lineman Ali Marpet. Sweezy, meanwhile, could logically reunite with the Seahawks, with whom he played four seasons earlier in his career.

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5 Key Stories: 6/10/18 – 6/17/18

Texas franchises reach extension agreements: The Cowboys now have all of their core offensive linemen locked up long-term. Zack Martin‘s six-year, $84MM deal represents a new standard for guards. He’s signed through the 2024 season and will see $40MM guaranteed. Martin joins Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick in being entrenched on future Dallas lines. Benardrick McKinney will also be anchoring many future Texans linebacking crews. By reaching a five-year, $50MM extension with Houston, McKinney’s the latest member of the eight-figure-per-year club among off-ball linebackers.

Andrew Luck resumes throwing, at long last: The endless saga finally brought some positive developments for the seventh-year passer. The Colts quarterback resumed throwing during the team’s minicamp this week, first on Tuesday with high school-sized footballs and then finally picking up “The Duke” on Wednesday. After missing a full season due to a January 2017 shoulder surgery, Luck is building toward being available for the Colts in 2018. He’s expected to ramp up his work in preparation for Indianapolis’ training camp, when the team expects no limitations from the centerpiece performer.

Holdout core forming: Khalil Mack extended his holdout to minicamp. So did Aaron Donald, as expected. Earl Thomas also didn’t show for Seattle’s, but count David Johnson among those who skipped minicamp in pursuit of a new contract. Taylor Lewan joined some of his 2014 first-round brethren, having observed what Nate Solder‘s Giants deal did to the left tackle market. Odell Beckham Jr. did not take this route, instead attending New York’s minicamp and participating partially. While Beckham said he’ll attend Giants training camp, that’s not a lock due to his extension talks residing at a standstill.

Familiar faces on suspension block: For a second straight June, the Cowboys learned they’ll be without David Irving for the first four games of the season. The defensive lineman this time incurred a substance-abuse suspension after being popped for PEDs last summer. And Martavis Bryant may now run the risk of an extreme ban, considering he missed an entire season for running afoul of the league’s substance-abuse policy. The Raiders are worried their new deep threat is about to be banned. Also banned this week: new Browns tackle Donald Stephenson and free agent defensive tackle Roy Miller.

Chargers considering an Antonio Gates reunion: After declaring via press release the Gates era was over, the Bolts are now open to bringing him back. Tom Telesco said the team has talked to the future Hall of Fame tight end, who would have a bigger role than he otherwise would have thanks to Hunter Henry‘s ACL tear. Los Angeles signed Virgil Green in the offseason but has a big need at the pass-catching tight end spot.

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5 Key NFL Stories: 6/3/18 – 6/10/18

Julian Edelman suspended four games. The NFL suspended Edelman for a quarter of the 2018 campaign for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Edelman is appealing the ban, but if the suspension holds, he’ll lose nearly $1MM in combined base salary, roster bonuses, and a signing bonus proration, while his incentive package will also more difficult to attain. Now 32 years old, Edelman missed the entire 2017 season after suffering a torn ACL. If Edelman is out for the season’s first four games, the Patriots will be forced to rely on fellow wideouts Chris Hogan, Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Jordan Matthews, among others.

Shane Ray needs another wrist surgery. After missing eight games with a wrist issue in 2017, Ray will need to undergo another operation for the same wrist injury. Ray has already had a disappointing offseason, as the Broncos declined his 2019 fifth-year option, meaning he’ll hit free agency next spring. Now, his platform season could be in question, as there is no guarantee Ray will be on the field for Week 1. Ray, who posted eight sacks in 2016, is now expected to be fourth in line for pass-rushing snaps in Denver, behind Von Miller, Shaquil Barrett, and fifth overall selection Bradley Chubb.

Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski attend Patriots minicamp. After an offseason filled with drama, both Brady and Gronk appeared at Gillette Stadium last week. Brady re-affirmed this relationship with New England and head coach Bill Belichick is still in a good place, while Gronkowski was presumably skipping organized team activities in an effort to get a reworked contract. Gronkowski trade rumors surfaced on Twitter last week, but there is reportedly “zero truth” about reports which Gronk labeled “fake news.”

Bears bring back Zach Miller. After suffering a devastating injury in 2017, Miller was told he might lose his left leg. Nine surgeries later, Miller’s leg is safe, but he faces a lengthy uphill battle if he wants to return to the NFL. Chicago re-signed him last week in something of a goodwill gesture: while Miller has already been placed on the physically unable to perform list (meaning he won’t play in 2018), he can collect a salary and benefits as he continues rehab.

Mychal Kendricks finds a new home. After an odd turn in which Kendricks denied that he’d signed with the Browns, Cleveland announced that it had officially signed the former Eagles linebacker. Kendricks’ one-year, $3.5MM deal comes with just $500K guaranteed, so he’s not a lock for the Browns’ squad. That’s especially true given that Cleveland already boasts three starting-caliber linebackers in Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, and Joe Schobert.

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Key NFL Stories: 5/27/18 – 6/3/18

Brandon Marshall finds a home…The Seahawks were the only team known to have expressed interest in Marshall, and they’re the club that ultimately signed the veteran wideout, inking him to a one-year deal that can be worth as much as $2.155MM. Marshall will only receive $90K in guaranteed money, and needs to hit certain production thresholds in order to max out the contract. Seattle doesn’t have a ton of depth behind Doug Baldwin, and it’s entirely possible Marshall can take playing time away from Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, and the rest of the Seahawks’ wide receivers. Marshall, for his part, admitted he “didn’t have a ton of options” before landing with Seattle.

…but Dez Bryant hasn’t, and might not for awhile. Bryant, instead, may need to wait until training camp begins to sign with a new team, and it may even take an injury before he can sign a fresh contract. There hasn’t been a single team concretely linked to Bryant, although he recently lobbied for the 49ers to sign him. It doesn’t seem as though the NFL is still high on Bryant, as many clubs reportedly wouldn’t even consider the 29-year-old on a minimum salary deal. Bryant reportedly rejected a three-year, $21MM pact from the Ravens earlier this offseason.

Tre Boston takes another meeting. A trio of safeties — Boston, Eric Reid, and Kenny Vaccaro — are surprising still available as the calendar turns to June, but Boston’s market could be heating up, as he took a visit with the Cardinals last week. Boston, one of the best free agents who still remains unsigned, has also taken a meeting with the Colts, and has been linked to the Browns, Giants, and Raiders. Free agent safeties aren’t getting much interest this year, and it’s possible that Reid’s social activism — and ongoing collusion case against the NFL — has set the entire positional market back.

Dolphins extend CB Bobby McCain. Miami locked up McCain — its starting slot cornerback — through the 2022 campaign, signing the 24-year-old to a four-year, $27MM extension. A former fifth-round pick, McCain will earn nearly $2MM in 2018 thanks to the NFL’s proven performance escalator program. McCain has appeared in all 16 games in each season of his three-year career, and last year made seven starts while posting two interceptions and grading as the league’s No. 46 cornerback among 121 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

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