Week In Review

5 Key Stories: 5/12/24 – 5/19/24

Teams around the NFL are turning their attention to organized team activities and the mandatory minicamps which will soon follow them. Developments related to potential holdouts once attendance becomes mandatory have been seen in recent days, while a pair of blockbuster extensions were also worked out. Here is a recap of the past week’s top stories:

  • Lions Extend Goff: For the second time in his career, Jared Goff has secured a massive new deal. The former No. 1 pick agreed to a four-year, $212MM extension with the Lions which will keep him in place through at least 2027. This pact (which includes an option for 2028) carries a $53MM AAV, the second-highest figure in the NFL. It also features a practical guarantee of $148MM and a no-trade clause, making this a favorable deal for Goff. The 29-year-old has revived his career in Detroit, helping lead the team to the NFC title game in 2023. Expectations will be high for a repeat over the coming years on a Lions offense which also has Amon-Ra St. Brown and Penei Sewell attached to mega-deals of their own. Detroit drafted a potential Goff replacement (Hendon Hooker) last year, but he no longer has a path to playing time in the foreseeable future.
  • Buccaneers Hand Winfield Jr. Record-Breaking Deal: When the Buccaneers used the franchise tag on safety Antoine Winfield Jr., it was clear that move served as a means of buying time for extension talks. A long-term deal arrived when the sides agreed to a four-year, $84.1MM contract which takes the place of the tag. The All-Pro now holds the title of not only the league’s highest-paid safety, but the top earner amongst all defensive backs. Winfield, 25, enjoyed a career year in 2023 and he will remain a foundational member of Tampa Bay’s defense moving forward (especially over the next two years, where he will see $45MM fully guaranteed). With new deals for Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans, Lavonte David and now Winfield done this offseason, the Bucs’ attention will turn to a monster Tristan Wirfs accord.
  • Tagovailoa’s Contract Status Driving Dolphins Absence: With offseason workouts in their voluntary phase, absences amongst high-profile players are generally not viewed as being as impactful as training camp holdouts. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been away from the team for most of their offseason program to date, however, which marks a departure from his past participation habits. The 2020 first-rounder saw classmates Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert sign monster extensions last offseason, and talks on his own deal are ongoing. Tagovailoa’s decision to skip most Miami activities so far is believed to be related to his lack of a new deal. The 26-year-old had a fully healthy (and productive) season in 2023, helping his market value. He is set to earn $23.17MM on his fifth-year option this campaign, but a multi-year accord will be much pricier.
  • Hendrickson Practicing With Bengals: Before the draft, it was learned Trey Hendrickson requested a trade from the Bengals. The Pro Bowl edge rusher attempted to negotiate a new deal coming off a career year in March, but a lack of success on that front drove the request to be moved. Nothing has taken place since, though Hendrickson has resumed working out with the Bengals. Cincinnati has no desire to move on from the 29-year-old, who has amassed 39.5 sacks in three seasons with the team. Two years remain on Hendrickson’s deal, but his scheduled salaries ($14.8MM, $15.8MM) are not guaranteed. It will be interesting to see if he plays in 2024 on his existing pact or if further efforts to secure more up-front compensation are made this summer.
  • Jets Eyed De Facto Hackett Replacement? Nathaniel Hackett is in place as the Jets’ offensive coordinator, but the team struggled on that side of the ball last season. In the wake of his less-than-stellar New York debut, the team reportedly sought out a staffer who would have outranked Hackett this offseason. The 44-year-old had a disastrous tenure as head coach of the Broncos which lasted less than one season, but his ties to Aaron Rodgers has allowed the pair to resume their relationship with the Jets. Head coach Robert Saleh was previously linked to searching out a hire tasked with limiting Hackett’s influence, but no move has taken place. The latter will thus remain a key figure for the Jets this year, as the team aims to rebound on offense with a healthy Rodgers.

5 Key Stories: 5/5/24 – 5/12/24

With the deadline having passed for signings to count against the compensatory pick formula, free agent movement has picked up around the league. Developments on those and other fronts have taken place recently; in case you missed any of the NFL’s top stories from the past week, here is a quick recap:

  • Patriots Retain Wolf To Lead Front Office: As expected, the Patriots began the post-draft portion of the offseason by searching out external candidates for their de facto general manager position. Several potential hires turned down the opportunity to interview for the gig, however, amidst the widespread expectation Eliot Wolf would remain in place as New England’s lead executive. Indeed, the team gave Wolf the title of EVP of player personnel, putting an end to the search. In his first offseason at the helm, the 42-year-old has overseen a number of critical decisions – including, most notably, the selection of Drake Maye at No. 3 in the draft. Wolf will lead the front office as the Patriots begin to transition to Maye as their starting quarterback (in the near future) and move forward from the Bill Belichick era.
  • Raiders To Hold QB Competition: In the build-up to the draft, the Raiders were named as a candidate to move up the board to add a quarterback (in particular, Jayden Daniels). The team did not do so, leaving Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew in place under center. New GM Tom Telesco confirmed Vegas will hold a training camp competition between the two. O’Connell has drawn praise from head coach Antonio Pierce, and he finished his rookie season by throwing nine touchdowns and one interception over his final six games. Minshew, meanwhile, inked a two-year, $25MM deal in free agency. The 27-year-old has much more NFL action under his belt, and Vegas’ new offensive scheme could counterbalance O’Connell’s potential advantage from spending time in the previous system to a degree. As the Raiders aim to take a step forward in 2024, the battle for the QB1 spot will be a key story to follow.
  • Chargers Add Dupree: The Chargers kept both Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack in place this offseason via restructured contracts. That pair will have Bud Dupree as a notable third edge rushing option, with the latter having inked a two-year contract. Dupree will earn at least $6MM with the potential for $10MM during his Bolts pact. The 31-year-old had a disappointing run with the Titans, leading to his release last year. Serving as a starter with the Falcons, though, he regained his Steelers form to an extent and tied for the team lead with 6.5 sacks in 2023. Instead of returning to Pittsburgh or Atlanta (teams which had interest in a reunion), Dupree has elected to join a Chargers outfit which was among the league leaders in sacks last season. With Bosa struggling on the injury front recently, he could see notable playing time in Los Angeles.
  • Boyd Joins Titans: Tyler Boyd courted a number of teams prior to arriving at a decision on the open market. The longtime Bengals wideout elected to sign with the Titans on a one-year deal. This agreement (worth up to $4.5MM) will allow Boyd to continue working with ex-Cincinnati OC Brian Callahan, Tennessee’s new head coach. The 29-year-old was linked to a deal with his hometown Steelers, but the sides could not agree to terms. Instead, he will depart a receiving corps headlined by Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins to join one including DeAndre Hopkins and free agent addition Calvin Ridley. Boyd has twice topped 1,000 yards in his career, but he will look to rebound from declining production in recent seasons. Doing so would help a Titans’ offense led by Will Levis and help his 2025 free agent stock.
  • Hill Aiming For New Dolphins Deal? The $30MM-per-year deal the Dolphins gave Tyreek Hill in 2022 stood as the benchmark amongst receivers until recently. That pact is artificially inflated with non-guaranteed money after 2024, however, and Hill’s comments on his future indicate he is seeking a Miami extension. The five-time All-Pro stated his desire to finish his career as a Dolphin, although last year he said he planned to retire following the conclusion of his Miami pact. With Hill’s contract set to carry massive cap hits in 2025 ($34.24MM) and ’26 ($56.31MM) the Dolphins would be well-served to work out an extension lowering those figures while providing him with new guarantees if a mutual desire exists on the team’s part

5 Key Stories: 4/28/24 – 5/5/24

With the draft now in the rearview, most major roster-building moves around the league have taken place. A new wave of free agent signings is underway, though, and other key decisions were made in recent days. In case you missed any of the top developments from around the NFL over the past week, here is a quick recap:

  • Chiefs Agree To Kelce Raise: Not long after lining up new deals for head coach Andy Reid, general manager Brett Veach and president Mark Donovan, the Chiefs hammered out a new agreement with tight end Travis Kelce. Originally reported as an extension, the deal is actually a raise which keeps the future Hall of Famer on the books for two more years. Kelce will receive $34.25MM across 2024 and 2025, with his compensation for the coming season ($17MM) guaranteed at signing. The revised pact moves the 34-year-old to the top of the pecking order in terms of annual earnings at the tight end position and ensures he will remain the focal point of Kansas City’s passing game for at least the near future. As the Chiefs pursue a third straight Super Bowl, Kelce will join defensive tackle Chris Jones in playing on a lucrative new pact.
  • Patriots Extend Barmore: Over the past two years in particular, a number of ascending defensive tackles have landed sizable second contracts. Christian Barmore became the latest name on that list when he inked a four-year Patriots extension with a base value of $84MM. New England has been busy with respect to retaining players this offseason, and the team prevented a 2025 Barmore free agent departure by working out this deal. The 24-year-old enjoyed a breakout campaign last season (8.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss) while logging a career-high defensive workload. The Patriots are banking on a continuation of that career development, although the structure of the contract’s guarantees (which includes $31.8MM locked in at signing) could allow them to cut bait in 2026. Still, this Barmore pact is the largest New England deal given to a player other than Tom Brady, so the team’s financial commitment is certainly a notable one.
  • Cowboys, Elliott Reunite: In a move foreshadowed throughout the offseason, Ezekiel Elliott returned to the Cowboys on a one-year deal. The two-time rushing champion was released by Dallas last offseason, setting up a single campaign spent with the Patriots. Elliott posted career-worst figures on the ground in 2023, but he and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have both expressed a belief he can still operate as a starter at this point in his career. Elliott, 28, is currently in line to shoulder a notable workload in the backfield as things stand. Dallas saw Tony Pollard depart in free agency, and the team’s only veteran addition prior to Elliott was Royce Freeman. To the surprise of many, the Cowboys did not select a running back during the draft, leaving plenty of carries available for Elliott and the team’s other incumbents. The former No. 4 pick will collect $2MM guaranteed and up to $3MM in 2024.
  • Steelers Decline Harris’ 2025 Option: May 2 marked the deadline for teams to decide on the fifth-year options of 2021 first-rounders. That process brought about few surprises, but the Steelers elected not to exercise running back Najee Harris‘ 2025 option. Picking it up would have locked Harris into a guaranteed salary of $6.79MM next season, but he is now on track for free agency. Pittsburgh is reportedly open to negotiating a deal with the Alabama product, but his value will be greatly influenced by his 2024 performance. Harris has served as a workhorse back to date, topping 1,200 scrimmage yards in each of his three seasons. He has been less efficient in doing so than Jaylen Warren, however, and the latter is positioned to continue splitting carries this season in an offense set to feature the run heavily. It will be interesting to see how Harris’ value is affected as the campaign progresses.
  • Goodell, Owners Open To 18-Game Season: Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear he is open to adding an 18th contest to the NFL’s regular season. In the wake of him publicly backing a setup featuring just two preseason games to make up the difference (along with a Presidents Day weekend Super Bowl), a report indicated owners are in favor of such an adjustment. Expanding the schedule was a key negotiation point ahead of the 2021 CBA being hammered out; even though the agreement runs through 2030, efforts could be made to adopt the 18-game season well before it expires. Doing so would of course require concessions being made to the NFLPA, which has new leadership in place. The NFL has used a 17-game schedule for the past three seasons, but that could change in relatively short order if support increases for further expansion.

5 Key Stories: 4/21/24 – 4/28/24

This past weekend saw the 2024 draft come and go, marking a major checkpoint on the offseason calendar. As usual, other key developments took place on the roster-building front leading up to the event, however. In case you missed anything from the past seven days, here is a quick recap:

  • Williams, QBs Headline First Round: As expected, quarterbacks dominated the top of the Day 1 orderCaleb Williams (Bears), Jayden Daniels (Commanders) and Drake Maye (Patriots) were the first three players to hear their names called. Atlanta then provided the night’s largest surprise by selecting Michael Penix Jr. eighth overall. That was followed by a trade-up (albeit a smaller one than many predicted) by the Vikings, who drafted J.J. McCarthy at No. 10. Rounding out the run on signal-callers, Bo Nix was added by the Broncos. A record-breaking stretch of 137 picks ensued after that selection before the next QB, but those six teams each added an intriguing rookie to their depth charts.
  • Chiefs Extend Reid, Veach, Donovan: Andy Reid has faced questions about retirement in recent years, but he put those to rest by agreeing to a new Chiefs extension. General manager Brett Veach as well as president Mark Donovan are also attached to new contracts, and as such Kansas City’s top decision-makers will be in place for the foreseeable future. Reid has climbed to fourth on the all-time wins list during his decorated time with the Chiefs while Veach has enjoyed considerable success alongside him since they joined the team in 2013. Four Super Bowl appearances in the past five years – including three titles – have helped the Chiefs become the league’s most decorated team in recent seasons, and the continued presence of a strong core headlined by Patrick Mahomes means they will likely remain contenders for years to come.
  • St. Brown, Sewell Land Massive Lions Deals: Prior to the draft kicking off, the Lions hammered out deals with two major contributors of their offense. Both wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and right tackle Penei Sewell signed lucrative extensions keeping them in place through 2028 and ’29, respectively. The former inked a four-year pact averaging just over $30MM per year; it includes $77MM in guarantees, over $35MM of which is locked in at signing. The latter, meanwhile, is in line to collect $28MM per season on his own four-year accord. Sewell’s deal is the most expensive one ever given to an O-lineman and it shatters the record for value in terms of right tackles. Both All-Pros will be counted on to remain key producers for years to come in Detroit while commanding large financial commitments.
  • Eagles Extend Brown: Not long after St. Brown reached the summit of the receiver market, A.J. Brown moved to the top of the pecking order with an Eagles extension. Two years still remain on the pact he signed upon arrival in Philadelphia, but the 26-year-old landed $96MM on a three-year add-on which will keep him in the fold through 2029. The Eagles recently gave DeVonta Smith a three-year, $75MM extension and that pact moved him into a tie with Brown in terms of annual average value. Coming off a second straight 1,400-yard season, though, the latter is now once again the highest earner in Philadelphia’s skill position group. In all, the Eagles have now made four lucrative investments regarding in-house players on the offensive side of the ball this offseason.
  • Jets Deal Wilson To Broncos: Prior to selecting Nix – a decision which many pointed to being on the table – the Broncos acquired Zach Wilson from the Jets. The latter was known to be on the trade block, and New York received offers well before the Denver swap came to pass. Wilson, 24, struggled mightily during his time as a Jets starter and the team signed Tyrod Taylor this offseason to serve as Aaron Rodgers‘ backup. With Wilson’s trade having been worked out, four of the five QBs selected in the opening round of the 2021 draft (all but Trevor Lawrence) have now been dealt to a new team. In Wilson’s case, he will join a depth chart which features Nix, Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci. Attached to his rookie pact for one more year, it will be interesting to see how Wilson develops under head coach Sean Payton as he aims to rebuild his value.

5 Key Stories: 4/14/24 – 4/21/24

The 2024 NFL draft has nearly arrived, and rumors continue to swirl regarding teams’ intentions near the top of the board. Plenty of updates on that front continue to emerge, although a pair of major extensions were also worked out in recent days. In case you missed any of the top developments from around the league this past week, here is a quick recap:

  • Eagles Retain Smith Through 2028: In the era of fifth-year options for first-round picks, no receiver had received an extension after three seasons in the league. The Eagles made an exception to that rule by handing DeVonta Smith a three-year, $75MM deal which will kick in following his rookie contract. To no surprise, Philadelphia also picked up Smith’s fifth-year option (valued at $15.59MM) and as a result the former Heisman winner will be on the books through 2028. Smith, 25, will collect $51MM guaranteed and the average annual value of his extension puts him in a tie (with teammate A.J. Brown) for fourth at the WR position. That marks a lucrative long-term commitment on the Eagles’ part, one which will no doubt continue to push the top of the receiver market forward when other ascending producers negotiate their own extensions.
  • Colts Extend Buckner: Indianapolis became the latest team to hand a sizable new contract to a defensive tackle by inking DeForest Buckner to a two-year, $46MM pact. The 30-year-old was set to enter 2024 as a contract year, but he has secured $43.55MM guaranteed at signing, a sign that he will remain in place for at least three more years. Buckner has received two of his three Pro Bowl invitations along with his lone first-team All-Pro nod during his four-year tenure with the Colts, and he will be counted on to remain a foundational figure on the team’s defense for years to come. Having kept a number of key players in the fold this offseason, Indianapolis will have Buckner at a reduced cap charge ($8.35MM) in 2024 before seeing that figure spike in later years.
  • Commanders Still Positioned To Select Daniels? Caleb Williams is universally seen as the Bears’ selection with the first overall pick in the upcoming draft. The Commanders’ choice at No. 2 is murkier, but indications continue to suggest Jayden Daniels will be headed to the nation’s capital. The 2023 Heisman winner was the subject of a recent report stating Washington is expected to draft him, but links to Antonio Pierce and the Raiders persist. Daniels’ preference is believed to be Las Vegas, an arrangement which would reunite him with Pierce. The Commanders are much better positioned to draft one of the class’ top quarterbacks (unlike the Raiders) as things stand, though, and Daniels is considered a fit within OC Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme. With Washington’s unorthodox QB visit process in the books, all eyes will remain on the team’s draft plans.
  • Top-Six Teams Discussing Pick Trades: Teams in need of a quarterback outnumber the selections available near the top of the order, which could lead to trade-up maneuvers on Day 1. While the Bears, Commanders and Patriots are in position to retain the first three selections, the next three picks could be in flux. The Cardinals are known to be open to moving on from No. 4, although their conditions for trading down may not be met in the coming days. Meanwhile, the Chargers (set to select fifth) and Giants (sixth) have each received calls from teams looking to move up. New York’s extensive homework on QB prospects could lead to a small trade-up, but the team remains a wild card with a move down the board believed to be in play. Overall, the potential exists for a substantial shake-up of the top-six order once the first round begins.
  • Prescott Open To 2025 Free Agency? No agreement is expected between the Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott this offseason. As a result, the three-time Pro Bowler is on track for free agency in 2025, something his comments on the matter suggest he is open to exploring. Prescott has no-trade and no-tag clauses in his current deal, a $40MM-per-year accord which will be dwarfed in value by his next one. Coming off a season in which he finished second in MVP voting, Prescott holds considerable leverage in talks with the Cowboys (although his and the team’s latest underwhelming postseason exit could lead to trepidation in pursuing a second multi-year commitment). Still, Dallas has another deal for the 30-year-old – as well as CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons – on the radar, something which could lead to a complicated financial outlook.

5 Key Stories: 4/7/24 – 4/14/24

The countdown to the draft continues, and teams around the league remain busy hosting prospects set to be selected at every point in the order. Plenty of intrigue is building regarding the teams positioned to add a potential franchise quarterback in particular, though some notable developments concerning established players have also taken place. Here is a quick recap of the NFL’s top stories from the past week:

  • Jags Extend Allen: Another franchise tag recipient landed a long-term deal when the Jaguars inked Josh Allen to a five-year extension. Falling in line with the deal Brian Burns landed upon arrival with the Giants, Allen secured $28.25MM in annual base value and $76.5MM guaranteed at signing. That places him near the top of the edge market and cements his status as a foundational member of Jacksonville’s defense for the foreseeable future. Allen, 26, set a new franchise record with 17.5 sacks in 2023 after failing to reach double digits in that regard each of the past three years. Repeating last season’s success would represent a major development for the Jaguars’ front seven.
  • Chiefs’ Rice Facing Eight Felony Charges: As expected, Rashee Rice now faces charges stemming from his involvement in a hit-and-run incident during which two vehicles which were racing were involved in a six-car crash. The Chiefs wideout – who was driving one of the cars – has been charged with eight felonies (seven counts related to collision involving bodily harm and one count of aggravated assault). Rice turned himself in to police and posted a $40K bail. The 23-year-old’s situation therefore remains one worth monitoring closely in terms of legal developments and the potential league discipline which could accompany them. Theodore Knox, a former teammate of Rice at SMU, was driving the other vehicle; he has been suspended from the Mustangs’ football team and he now faces the same charges as Rice.
  • Daniels Likely Commanders’ Selection At No. 2? The Commanders represent a key turning point in the upcoming draft by owning the second overall pick. With Caleb Williams likely to come off the board first, Washington will have a choice of Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy and Jayden Daniels at the No. 2 slot. Many around the league expect the latter to be the Commanders’ ultimate selection, although the team has ‘top-30’ visits lined up with all three passers. Daniels won the Heisman in 2023, his second season at LSU. The Arizona State transfer has drawn praise for his processing as a passer along with his rushing abilities, but concerns over his age and build have been raised. Whichever rookie heads to the nation’s capital this summer will likely have the chance to compete for the starter’s gig right away, and Daniels’ floor could position him well to see early playing time in 2024.
  • Bucs, Winfield Making Progress On Market-Setting Extension: Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. remains on track to play on his franchise tag in 2024. That one-year pact carries a value of $17.12MM, but a more lucrative long-term agreement could be on the horizon. Optimism exists Winfield and the Buccaneers could work out a deal making him the league’s highest-paid player at his position. While the veteran safety market took a notable hit ahead of this year’s free agent period, keeping Winfield in place for years to come would likely prove to be a valuable move on Tampa Bay’s part. The second-generation defensive back earned first-team All-Pro acclaim in 2023, and at the age of 25 he is positioned to be a staple of the team’s backend for years to come. GM Jason Licht is confident a deal with both Winfield and standout left tackle Tristan Wirfs can be hammered out.
  • Eagles Begin Smith Extension Talks: Like Winfield, DeVonta Smith could soon have a second contract in hand. The latter is now negotiating an Eagles extension, and optimism exists an agreement can be worked out relatively soon. Smith has been a key figure in Philadelphia’s passing game during his three-year tenure, reaching the 1,000-yard mark in each of the past two campaigns. The Eagles’ offense already features a number of lucrative commitments (from quarterback Jalen Hurts to offensive linemen Landon Dickerson, Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson as well as fellow receiver A.J. Brown). Smith – who will no doubt have his fifth-year option picked up this spring, keeping him in place through 2025 – could be in line to command a sizable raise compared to his rookie pact, though. No wideouts have been extended in their first offseason of eligibility during the era of fifth-year options, so it will be interesting to see if a Smith pact can be finalized this spring or summer.

5 Key Stories: 3/31/24 – 4/7/24

With the calendar having flipped to April, the countdown to the draft continues. As teams further evaluate the top prospects in this year’s class, a number of key decisions involving established players have taken place recently. Here is a recap of the league’s top headlines from the past week:

  • Bills Deal Diggs To Texans: Stefon Diggs saw his four-year Bills run come to an end with a deal sending him to the Texans being worked out in short order. Buffalo will receive a 2025 second-round pick in return for the four-time Pro Bowler and two Day 3 selections. Diggs, 30, has been the subject of controversy and speculation over time, although Bills GM Brandon Beane planned on retaining him for the 2024 campaign prior to talks with Houston picking up. The Texans now boast a six-time 1,000-yard receiver on an offense which already had high expectations ahead of the coming season, although the team has notably removed the post-2024 years on Diggs’ deal. Carrying a dead cap charge of over $31MM and now dealing with another receiver departure, meanwhile, the Bills will be a team to watch with respect to a pass-catching addition in the draft.
  • Panthers Extend Brown: The Panthers’ negotiations with Derrick Brown on a lucrative new deal produced a four-year, $96MM agreement. The former top-10 pick thus became the latest young defensive tackle to earn a monster second contract, securing $41MM fully guaranteed in the process. Brown earned his first career Pro Bowl nod last season, and the departures of several key defenders – including Brian Burns – will add even further to his importance on Carolina’s defense. Days away from his 26th birthday, Brown continued ascending as a run defender in 2023 (103 tackles), although his career has included marginal sack production compared to his positional peers. New general manager Dan Morgan is nevertheless confident the Auburn product can remain an anchor along the Panthers’ defensive interior for the foreseeable future.
  • Mailata Lands New Eagles Deal: The Eagles have already given guard Landon Dickerson a record-setting extension but the 2024 offseason has also seen another major financial investment up front. Left tackle Jordan Mailata landed a three-year, $66MM extension despite being on the books through 2025. The converted rugby player will now earn an average of $22MM per season, a figure which ranks fourth amongst all left tackles. Mailata, 27, has been a foundational member of the Eagles’ O-line for the past four seasons and he will remain in place for years to come as a result of this agreement. Philadelphia’s offensive front will look different in the middle after center Jason Kelce’s retirement; the blindside will have a familiar face in 2024 and beyond, though.
  • Dugger Replaces Transition Tag With Patriots Contract: The Patriots kept Kyle Dugger from reaching the market by placing the rarely-used transition tag on him last month. The sides remained free to negotiate a long-term deal, though, and efforts on that front produced a four-year agreement. The versatile defensive back will receive up to $66MM on his new contract, including $32.5MM guaranteed. New England has managed to retain a number of pending free agents this offseason, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Dugger, 28, has proven to be a high-end producer in the run game throughout his four-year career, although his work in coverage has led to less-than stellar evaluations. As the team transitions to new head coach Jerod Mayo, he will remain a focal point of the New England’s secondary in 2024 and beyond.
  • Chiefs’ Rice Set To Face Charges? Rashee Rice was involved in a hit-and-run incident, during which six vehicles crashed. Two cars were believed to be street racing, and the Chiefs wideout was driving one of them before fleeing the scene. As a result, Rice’s lawyer expects charges to be filed in the near future, though the 23-year-old has cooperated with police’s investigation and he plans on covering the victims’ expenses generated by the accident. NFL discipline does not require legal action being taken, but the league may very well wait until after any charges are laid before proceeding with a punishment. Rice is currently on track to play a large role in Kansas City’s receiving corps for 2024 after enjoying a strong rookie campaign.

5 Key Stories: 3/24/24 – 3/31/24

Teams continue to make adjustments to their rosters in advance of the upcoming draft, something which has produced a few notable moves in recent days. The recent league meetings also produced a number of noteworthy developments. Here is a quick recap of this past week’s top stories from around the NFL:

  • Eagles, Jets Agree To Reddick Trade: The Eagles’ edge rush group faced a number of questions this offseason, owing in large part to the uncertain status of Haason Reddick. The two-time Pro Bowler was traded to the Jets with one year remaining on his contract, although a new deal could be coming in short order. In exchange, Philadelphia will receive a conditional 2026 third-round pick; the selection could become a second-rounder if the 29-year-old logs a snap share above 67.5% and records at least 10 sacks. The Eagles signed Bryce Huff to a lucrative free agent deal, casting further doubt on Reddick’s future. The latter will now join a strong Jets defensive front and either secure a new big-money pact or set himself up as one of the top members of the 2025 free agent class.
  • NFL Approves New Kickoff Format: Among the rule changes approved by the league’s owners, the most notable one was the decision to green-light a dramatically new alignment for kickoffs. The proposal (which passed by a vote of 29-3) will see the NFL essentially adopt – on a one-year, trial basis – the system which was in place in the XFL over the past two years. The change is aimed at staving off the steep decline in kick returns the NFL has seen in recent years, punctuated by a Super Bowl which included all 13 kickoffs resulting in a touchback. The league also agreed to push back the 2024 trade deadline by seven days; it will now fall on the Tuesday following Week 9.
  • Jaguars Extend Oluokun: Jacksonville added Foye Oluokun as a free agent in 2022, and the team has elected to keep him the fold for the foreseeable future. The 28-year-old inked a four-year extension which has a maximum value of $48MM and includes $22.5MM fully guaranteed. Oluokun – who has led the NFL in tackles twice in his career – is now under contract through 2028. The ex-Falcon ranked fourth in the league in terms of annual average value amongst linebackers on his previous contract ($15MM). That figure will be lowered via this extension, but it ensures Oluokun will remain a key member of Jacksonville’s defense for years to come while providing financial security relative to the remaining term on his old pact.
  • Browns Set To Extend Stefanski, Berry: Changes on the sidelines and in the front office have been commonplace for the Browns, but that trend is set to come to an end with respect to head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry. Both members of that pair are in line to receive contract extensions. A recent report indicated that would be the case, and with only one year remaining on their current deals a re-up would be sensible. Stefanski has earned Coach of the Year honors twice during his four-year run in Cleveland, helping lead the team to the postseason in 2020 and ’23. Berry’s tenure (which will of course be defined by the blockbuster trade acquisition of Deshaun Watson, one which has to date not gone as planned) has included a number of savvy veteran and draft additions. Both staffers should be in place for years to come once their new deals are signed.
  • Clowney Signs With Panthers: Continuing his career arc of short-term stints around the league, Jadeveon Clowney has once again found a new team. The former first overall pick signed a two-year, $20MM deal with the Panthers following the success of his one-and-done Ravens tenure. A new deal with Baltimore (as well as one with the Jets) seemed to be a possibility, but the Rock Hill, South Carolina native and former Gamecock ultimately elected to join a Panthers team which no longer has Brian Burns or hybrid linebacker Frankie Luvu in the fold. Clowney matched his career high with 9.5 sacks last season, and a repeat of that performance in 2024 would help Carolina’s rebuilding efforts on defense. It could also help the 31-year-old secure a long-term future in Carolina after spending time with five teams over the past six seasons.

5 Key Stories: 3/17/23 – 3/24/23

With free agency having slowed down considerably compared to the opening days of the league year, attention will increasingly turn toward the draft. The first week between the two major offseason checkpoints saw a number of notable developments, though. Here is a quick recap of the league’s top stories from the past seven days:

  • Chiefs Deal Sneed To Titans: Even before L’Jarius Sneed received the franchise tag, it was expected he would be traded away by the Chiefs at some point. The defending champions made Chris Jones a higher financial priority, and he has a new long-term deal in place. Shortly after reports emerged detailing the hurdles a Sneed contract represented to a Titans acquisition, the veteran corner was indeed dealt to Tennessee. Kansas City received a 2025 third-round pick as compensation, while the teams swapped 2024 seventh-rounders. Upon arrival, Sneed inked a $19MM-per-year extension including $55MM guaranteed to take the place of his tag. The 27-year-old will thus find himself near the top of the cornerback market for the foreseeable future in his new home, while the Chiefs will move forward with their incumbent secondary starters and avoid a Sneed free agent departure in 2025.
  • Sutton’s Arrest Warrant Prompts Lions Release: On March 7, an arrest warrant was issued for cornerback Cameron Sutton. One day after that went public, the Lions elected to release Sutton with a post-June 1 designation. The 29-year-old is wanted on a charge of domestic battery by strangulation stemming from an incident in Lutz, Florida. Police are still unable to locate Sutton, who signed a three-year deal with Detroit last offseason. He remained a full-time starter during his debut campaign, but the team (which has already made multiple CB additions this offseason) has a vacancy to fill in the secondary. The guaranteed money on Sutton’s pact will be voided, and Detroit will see $1.5MM in cap savings for this season as a result of the move.
  • Browns Extend Jeudy: Jerry Jeudy has yet to play a game for the Browns, but the former first-round receiver already has a three-year extension in place worth up to $58MM. Jeudy is now on the books through 2027, and he will receive $41MM guaranteed at signing. The 24-year-old’s play to date has not matched expectations given his draft stock, but the Browns will attempt to maximize his potential with Deshaun Watson at quarterback. Amari Cooper has proven to be an effective lead receiver in Cleveland, but he is under contract for only one more year at the moment. Jeudy will be in place as the team’s No. 2 wideout now and into the future regardless of what happens with Cooper.
  • Cardinals, Chargers Open To Trading Down: In consecutive days, both Monti Ossenfort (Cardinals) and Joe Hortiz (Chargers) publicly stated they are willing to trade the fourth and fifth selections in next month’s draft, respectively. Quarterbacks are widely expected to come off the board with the top three picks, and Chicago, Washington and New England are set to retain their places in the order. As such, Arizona and Los Angeles are the top targets for teams looking to maneuver up the order, likely to add the next-best quarterback available. The Cardinals and Chargers each have a need at receiver, and Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers project as the best non-QBs in the 2024 class. It would come as no surprise if either team stayed put to select their preferred wideout, but interest in a swap will no doubt pick up over the coming weeks.
  • Williams Chooses Jets: Mike Williams found himself on the market after being cut by the Chargers in a cost-shedding move. The veteran deep threat quickly drew interest from a number of teams, but his Jets visit yielded agreement on a one-year deal. Williams will earn a base value of $10MM, but another $5MM is available via incentives; the prove-it nature of the pact comes as little surprise since the 29-year-old will be coming off a torn ACL in 2024. The Jets will aim to have a healthy Aaron Rodgers under center next season, but upgrades at the receiver spot were a top offseason priority. If Williams can return to his previous 1,000-yard form, his addition will prove to be effective and his 2025 free agent value will see a notable spike.

5 Key Stories: 2/18/24 – 2/25/24

The opening of the franchise tag window began an important period on the NFL calendar in advance of free agency. It has already resulted in one notable move, with more sure to follow. In case you missed any of the top stories from this past week, here is a quick recap:

  • Bengals Tag Higgins: The two-week franchise tag window opened on February 20, and the Bengals quickly elected to place the one-year tender on wideout Tee Higgins. The 25-year-old would have headlined the free agent class at his position, and both he and the team have expressed a desire to continue their relationship. As a result, it comes as no surprise he will remain in Cincinnati for at least one more season. The Bengals will soon need to work out a monster extension for Ja’Marr Chase to pair with Joe Burrow’s $55MM-per-year contract, however, leading to questions of a tag-and-trade with Higgins or the chances he departs in 2025. The latter can continue negotiating a multi-year Bengals deal as late as July 15.
  • Salary Cap Sees Historic Increase: The NFL unveiled the salary cap ceiling for 2024, and it checked in at $255.4MM. Annual eight-figure increases have been commonplace in non-pandemic years, but the jump of roughly $30MM compared to 2023 is the largest in league history. Teams were preparing offseason strategies with a cap projection approximately $10MM lower than the actual figure, so it will be interesting to see how the found money will be allocated. As always, a number of teams still have work to do simply to achieve cap compliance in time for the new league year. Efforts on that front will be somewhat easier, though, and teams with considerable spending power will have even more flexibility. Notably, franchise tag and 2025 fifth-year option values are also in place, so much-needed clarity has emerged with respect to financial decisions around the league.
  • Bears Nearing QB Decision? Just like last year, the Bears hold the No. 1 pick in the draft and therefore have the means of selecting a Justin Fields successor. A decision on whether to take that route or (once again) retain Fields is expected to be in place by the upcoming NFL Combine. Teams have inquired about Fields’ availability, and the market Chicago can generate for the 24-year-old will no doubt be a crucial factor in the direction the rebuilding outfit takes. Numerous Bears coaches and executives have publicly praised Fields, who has one season remaining on his rookie contract (with the potential for one more via the fifth-year option). He would offer an intriguing option under center for any number of teams – and a trade would pave the way for a Caleb Williams selection – but it is unknown at this point if the Ohio State product will become available (as likely as that seems to be). Clarity on that front should be coming soon.
  • Raiders Interested In Top Pick: If the Bears do elect to commit to Fields, they could trade out of the No. 1 slot as they did last offseason. In that event, the Raiders would be among the teams eyeing a move up the board. Vegas is currently set to select 13th overall, so a trade-up of that magnitude would come at a massive cost. With Jimmy Garoppolo‘s time in Sin City thought to be over, though, the team is in the market for an addition at the QB spot. Three passers could very well come off the board with the first three selections, so Vegas is among the potential suitors which would need to get aggressive to acquire one of the top 2024 prospects under center. Interestingly, a recent reported noted the Raiders should not be considered a landing spot for Fields in the event he finds himself outside of Chicago this offseason.
  • Evans Likely To Reach Free Agency: The Buccaneers are a team to watch in the build-up to free agency, with Mike Evans set to see his contract expire. The perennial 1,000-yard wideout is not believed to be close on extension talks, which could lead to him heading elsewhere on the open market. Evans, 30, has spent his entire career in Tampa Bay but negotiations this past summer did not yield much traction on a third contract. He would be one of the most sought-after receivers in this year’s free agent class on a short-term arrangement in particular, and the Bucs have a new deal to work out with franchise tag candidate Antoine Winfield Jr. as well as quarterback Baker Mayfield. Talks with the latter have begun, and the team is eyeing an agreement before the new league year. Regardless of that effort, the chance of Evans departing this spring remains.