Mike Florio breaks down the biggest headlines around the NFL and starts with the reported one-year deal the Patriots have offered restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders. While the signing might put to rest any talk of collusion, Florio isn’t ready to put the topic to bed. Richard Sherman is back in the headlines after the Seahawks CB is quoted as saying “half the league takes Adderall,” and Florio runs down his All-Unemployed Team.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Sanders to Patriots smells fishy
Jason Garrett refers to Jeff Heath as one of the players “who always shows up” when the Cowboys give him chances. To that end, the Cowboys plan on giving Heath more chances this season.
They have penciled in Heath as the starting strong safety, a spot left open by the free agent departure of Barry Church.
“I’ve seen a lot [from Heath],” free safety Byron Jones said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “All of this stuff we saw last year, he wasn’t getting a lot of playing time earlier in the season, but he was coming in at critical situations and making good plays. That’s what Jeff Heath’s main thing is.
“Even on special teams, he’s a core guy. He’s a guy who is calling the plays. He’s a personal protector on punt [coverage]. That’s a big job. If there’s one guy we can trust with that, it’s Jeff Heath.”
The Cowboys signed Heath as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Known more as a core special teams player, Heath has made the most of his time on defense. He has five interceptions since arriving in Dallas, including the postseason, which ties him for the team lead in that span. Heath has intercepted Jameis Winston three times and Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers once each.
Heath received his most snaps his rookie season when he was on the field 594 defensive plays, starting nine games because of injuries in the secondary. He got only 125 snaps in 2014, 205 in 2015 and 243 in 2016.
On the first minicamp practice last week, Heath had two interceptions of Dak Prescott. Heath’s performance in the offseason program has given the Cowboys confidence he can handle the job.
Former Colts and longtime Arizona State head coach Frank Kush has died at the age of 88.
Kush coached the Colts from 1982-84, which made him a first-hand witness to both the team’s move from Baltimore to Indianapolis before the 1984 season and then-owner Robert Irsay’s decision to draft John Elway in 1983 despite Elway’s desire to avoid the Colts. Elway was ultimately traded to the Broncos.
“That was old man Irsay’s decision,” Kush said in 2008, via the Arizona Republic. “I’m sure he [Elway] didn’t want to play for the Colts. If that included Frank Kush, that’s his opinion.”
Kush went 11-28-1 before resigning with a game left in the 1984 season. He coached one season in the USFL before that league folded and spent a year in the CFL between his Colts and Arizona State gigs. Kush spent 21 seasons at ASU and went 176-54-1, but his tenure came to a bad end after a player accused Kush of punching him during a 1978 game.
Kush returned to the school in 2000 as a special assistant to the athletic director. The field at Sun Devil Stadium is named after him and a statue of Kush sits outside a stadium entrance.
Odell Beckham’s absence from voluntary offseason workouts hasn’t turned Giants owner John Mara against him.
Mara said today on WFAN that he had a “great conversation” with Beckham and still considers him the kind of player the Giants want on their roster.
“I wish we had another dozen players like him,” Mara said, via NJ.com.
Mara said the Giants want Beckham to get better at controlling his emotions, but they also think Beckham is emotional because he cares so much about his team.
“He knows that he’s got to mature and learn to control his emotions better,” Mara said. “He’s working on that. But one thing about that kid is that when he shows up at work, nobody works harder than he does. He’s so competitive, even in practice. He wants to win so badly.”
Beckham reportedly wants a new contract. Mara sounds like he’d be OK with paying Beckham a lot of money.
After the Steelers drafted wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round of this year’s draft, Martavis Bryant tweeted that the rookie would be replacing Sammie Coates in the team’s receiving corps.
Coates responded with a laugh, but he’s aware that it is going to be a competitive situation at camp this summer. Antonio Brown has a spot locked down and the Steelers won’t be cutting Smith-Schuster. Barring further discipline, Bryant will likely have another spot and Eli Rogers is back after working out of the slot last season.
Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter, Cobi Hamilton and 2016 seventh-rounder DeMarcus Ayers round out a group that Coates believes will make for “a good fight” for jobs. Special teams work will factor into the final choices and Coates’ chances of being one of them will be better if he’s healthy after breaking fingers last season and having groin surgery this offseason.
“I’m getting there. It’s a process,” Coates said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “That’s what this process is for, to get your body back so you can compete during camp. … I’m starting to get back my speed.”
Getting as much of it back as soon as he can would seem to be in Coates’ best interests.
When it comes to quarterback contracts, the player’s circumstances tend to have much more relevance to the final numbers than the broader market at the position. On Thursday, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr combined his status as a second-round pick entering the fourth and final year of his contract along with a clear message that he’s willing to do the franchise-tag dance into a long-term contract that nudges the bar a little higher than Colts quarterback Andrew Luck did a year ago.
As each franchise quarterback signs, attention turns to the next wave. Or two. Or three. Here’s a look at each of the foreseeable waves of major quarterback deals.
1. The Next Wave.
The twice-tagged Washington quarterback will either sign a long-term deal by July 17 or posture himself for one of several options in 2018: (1) a long-term contract with Washington signed after the season ends; (2) the transition tag of $28.7 million; (3) the franchise tag of $34.47 million; or (4) a shot at the open market, either with an offer sheet under the transition tag or as an unrestricted free agent.
His risks of letting it ride for a third straight year are simple and clear — serious injury or complete and total ineffectiveness. Either way, he will have made $44 million over two years, and at a minimum someone will pay him $5 million or so to serve as a backup in 2018, if for some reason he badly regresses this season.
What he’d make on the open market remains to be seen. The 49ers are believed to be interested, given the presence of former Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. But the Rams have hired the coordinator who helped Cousins throw for more than 4,900 yards in 2016. If head coach Sean McVay decides that he both wants Cousins and hopes to keep him from Shanahan, Cousins could be in position to sit back and allow the NFC West rivals to bid the package higher and higher.
Stafford has a $16.5 million salary in 2017, the last year of the extension he signed with two years left on his rookie deal. With a 2017 cap number of $22 million, his franchise tender for 2018 would be $26.4 million. For 2019, it would move to $31.68 million. That’s a bare minimum of $74.58 million to be paid out over the next three years, and thus the starting point for another extension.
Bottom line? He could (should) soon eclipse Carr as the highest paid player in NFL history.
A second-round pick from 2014 (like Carr), Garoppolo has been the subject of plenty of speculation regarding trades, franchise tags, and bridge deals aimed at paying him a lot of money to wait behind Tom Brady. For now, coach Bill Belichick merely wants to keep Garoppolo in place as insurance against a Brady injury. Come 2018, a decision will need to be made.
Some believe that Brady could retire after winning a sixth Super Bowl, especially since his wife seems to be steadily nudging him to walk off into the sunset. If that happens, the Patriots would then have a limited window for negotiating a long-term Garoppolo deal, with the franchise tag as the fallback against Garoppolo hitting the market.
The real question is whether the tag also would be the starting point on a long-term quarterback. For most quarterbacks, it is. But Garoppolo: (1) plays for the Patriots; and (2) is represented by Don Yee, the agent who has signed off on multiple below-market Tom Brady deals. Some think the Patriots will be able to get Garoppolo to take less than top dollar, like Brady has done. Others think Yee is determined to do with Garoppolo that which Brady refused to ever do.
If Brady refuses to retire after 2017 (and if the Patriots choose to keep him in place as a 41-year-old starter in 2018), they could tag and trade Garoppolo (see Matt Cassel), keep him under the tag for a year, sign Garoppolo to a short-term deal aimed at keeping him in place to take over for Brady, or let Garoppolo hit the open market and enhance their haul of compensatory draft picks in 2019.
Brees has one year left under contract, and a clause prohibiting the team from using the franchise tag to keep him in place the following year. Whether he stays or goes, Brees will count for a minimum of $18 million under the New Orleans salary cap next year.
He has said he won’t extend the deal, which means he’ll either sign with the Saints after the 2017 season ends and before the launch of free agency or he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, like he did more than 11 years ago.
So what is a 39-year-old franchise quarterback worth on the open market? We could find out within nine months.
Yes, Sam Bradford. The last No. 1 overall pick of the pre-rookie wage scale era, who made $78 million on his first six-year deal and enters the final season of the two-year, $36 million contract signed in Philadelphia last year. Now the starter in Minnesota, the Vikings can pay him a lot of money now or even more later, if forced to use the franchise tag to keep him in place.
The wildcard as to Bradford is Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings could end up choosing to keep him instead, if he recovers sufficiently from the devastating knee injury that compelled the Vikings to trade for Bradford last September.
Yes, A.J. McCarron. Other teams have been interested in trading for him, but the Bengals have wanted too much for the man who nearly helped Cincinnati nail down the No. 2 seed — and who did everything in his power to win a 2015 wild-card game against the Steelers — after Andy Dalton broke his thumb. Will someone break the bank for McCarron? He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in March.
2. The Second Wave.
The Falcons quarterback has two years remaining on his current deal, with a 2018 cap number of $21.65 million. This means that he’d make $25.98 million, at a minimum, under the franchise tag in 2019. With $35 million in cash due to be paid out over the next two seasons, the Falcons could approach Ryan about trading it in for a long-term deal that puts north of Carr in annual average, or Ryan could wait for the market to keep going up — and in turn for his leverage to increase.
However it plays out, another major payday is coming for Ryan. There’s currently no reason to think Ryan will push it to the brink and force the Falcons to play the franchise-tag dance.
Winston won’t approach free agency or the franchise tag until after the 2019 season, but he’ll be eligible for a second contract after 2017 . Given that the Buccaneers have never (never) given a second contract to any quarterback the franchise drafted, they may want to make a statement by committing to Winston as early as possible — and possibly at a number far lower than it would be if he’s closer to the franchise tag.
Mariota, the second pick in the same year Winston was drafted No. 1 overall, also becomes eligible for a new deal after the 2017 season. The Titans will need to decide whether to move quickly or let it play out a bit, with Mariota under contract through 2019, once they pick up the fifth-year option. The decision could, in theory, hinge on how quickly the Buccaneers extend Winston, and vice-versa.
3. The Third Wave.
Some would say Rodgers should be in the first wave. But here’s the rub: He doesn’t seem to be inclined to complain about his current contract, even though he’s woefully underpaid. It’s the Jo(h)n Voight Phenomenon; Rodgers did a bad deal, committing himself for seven full seasons in 2013 without accounting for potential spikes in the salary cap. As a result, his aging $22 million-per-year contract doesn’t compare well to new Derek Carr’s $25 million annual deal.
In March, as rumors and reports grew that the Bears would be giving Mike Glennon $15 million or more per year in free agency, Rodgers said as to whether this would compel contract talks for him, “I think it has to.” In response to the PFT item on the issue, Rodgers downplayed the obvious implications of his words and brushed our interpretation off as “#fakenews.”
Interpretation of the reaction to the interpretation? He plans to keep driving the LeBaron once owned by Jon Voight the actor, resisting any and all suggestions that it was actually owned by John Voight the periodontist.
As Wilson entered the last year of his rookie deal in 2015, the Seahawks rewarded Wilson for a pair of Super Bowl appearances (and avoided the franchise-tag dilemma) with a four-year extension worth $21.9 million per year. Wisely, Wilson ensured that he’d get back to the market sooner than later, which likely puts him in line for another extension after the 2018 season, when once again approaches the final year of his current deal in 2019.
The fourth-round phenom becomes eligible for a new deal after the 2018 season, and 2019 will be the fourth and final year of his rookie deal. The Cowboys will need to decide whether to do a top-of-market deal before Prescott approaches the franchise tag, or risk inheriting a Kirk Cousins conundrum. How he plays, and what the team achieves, over the next two years will be critical to answering that question.
The Raiders and quarterback Derek Carr have agreed to a five-year extension that is worth up to $125 million over the life of the deal.
As any longtime follower of NFL contracts is well aware, however, the details of how the deal is structured in terms of guaranteed money provides a fuller view of how much money a player will see over the life of the contract. According to multiple reports, Carr’s deal gives him $40 million in fully guaranteed money at the time of signing. There are reportedly $70 million in total guarantees, but it’s not clear how those are structured.
The $40 million at signing is less than Colts quarterback Andrew Luck received as part of the extension he signed a year ago. Luck had another $16 million guaranteed on the fifth day of this league year and the contract, which has a slightly lower annual average value, included $87 million guaranteed for injury in total.
Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Carr’s deal also includes a delayed cash flow that will enable the quarterback to take advantage of the lack of income tax in Nevada once the Raiders move to Las Vegas and should help the team find money to use on extensions for defensive end Khalil Mack and guard Gabe Jackson.
Cam Newton makes people stupid.
And sometimes, he makes them say things which are the opposite of things they said previously.
In a classic case of late-June hot-takery, former NFL defensive lineman Booger McFarland has declared Panthers quarterback Cam Newton a phony.
“People I talk to in Carolina tell me Cam’s not a leader and not well liked by a lot of his teammates,” McFarland said, via Ross Tucker.
The cool thing about this is, a year ago, McFarland said on ESPN Radio that Newton was the “Best young leader in all of sports right now.”
So, not to pick on Booger (see what I did there?), but which is it?
Certainly circumstances and opinions can change, and McFarland can easily claim he’s learned things in the last year he didn’t know previously. And if that’s the case, then at least one of his opinions was ill-informed and irresponsible.
Now we’ll just wait to see which one he claims, which will probably depend on whether Newton plays like an MVP again.
We now return you to your regular summer programming.
The Bengals have employed Marvin Lewis as their head coach since 2003 and they’ve kept him in the organization with a series of one-year extensions in recent years, but that’s not the case this time around.
Lewis is not signed beyond the 2017 season, leading some to wonder if this will be his final year on Cincinnati’s sideline if the team doesn’t make progress after going 6-9-1 last year. Quarterback Andy Dalton says the coach’s status isn’t weighing on the players as they head toward September.
“He doesn’t talk about contracts. He doesn’t talk about his situation,” Dalton said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It’s all about having a good year. So, the guys aren’t thinking about that.”
The players may not be putting particular focus on Lewis’ situation, but it’s not because they don’t like the coach. Cornerback Adam Jones and punter Kevin Huber both said they love Lewis, but pointed out that nothing about this offseason is too different from a player’s perspective.
If players don’t perform well, there’s a good chance they’ll be off the roster when the next year gets underway and that’s true whether Lewis is signed for four more years or four more months. Or, as Jones put it, “if you’re winning everything is good” and players have a lot more control over that than any decision owner Mike Brown will make if they post another losing record.
While the Patriots could find a way to funnel some extra cash to the most underpaid player in the league as a supplement to a current agreement that runs through 2019, Brady never has (and never will) try to break the bank.
But what if he did? What if Brady opted to drive a hard bargain, grabbing every dollar he could get, whether by holding out or playing out his deal and doing the year-to-year franchise-tag game? What could he get from the Patriots, or on the open market?
Ben Volin of the Boston Globe suggested an upper limit of $40 million per during a visit to Thursday’s PFT Live. While that may be a little high, Brady would be making at least $30 million per year.
Brady’s conscious decision not to take the (justifiable) Peyton Manning approach to contract negotiations, which likely arises both from the fact that Mrs. Brady is bringing home plenty of bacon and from Brady’s reluctance to ever be the subject of a dispassionate “are we paying him more than he’s worth?” analysis from Bill Belichick, impacts other quarterbacks. If Brady consistently pressed for the most he could make, chances are that other quarterbacks would be doing better, chasing Brady’s wake to annual averages greater than the brand new high-water mark of $25 million in new money.
Regardless, Brady — and only Brady — has decided not to take full advantage of his own circumstances as a franchise quarterback. Which likely has had something to do with one or more of the five Super Bowl rings he has won, and counting.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is now the highest paid quarterback in league history. Sort of.
Under the so-called “new money” analysis, Carr’s five-year, $125 million extension has a value of $25 million, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. That trumps the $24.769 million new-money average received a year ago by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck by a mere $271,000.
Based on total value at signing, Luck’s deal is technically better. He inked a six-year, $140 million deal. Carr will make $126.127 million over six years. That happened because Luck did his deal after playing four years, trading in the fifth-year option of $16.155 million for his new contract. Carr, a second-round pick, received his new deal a year earlier, with only $1.127 million still due in what would have been the fourth and final year of his deal.
The basic numbers of the deal represent the starting point, not the ending point, of the analysis. Three years ago, the agents leaked (and the info robots lapped up) a load of crap regarding the Colin Kaepernick contract. Be wary of any further information about the value of the deal until the real numbers are filed with the league and the union.
The most important questions as to this specific contract will be the signing bonus, the fully guaranteed money at signing, and (since true franchise quarterbacks tend to not get cut or squeezed to take less) the cash flow on the back end of the deal. Since the contract was reported as a lump sum, it appears Carr did not come the first player to receive protection against ongoing cap spikes in the form of a set percentage of the salary cap in future years.
Also relevant to Carr will be the payments pushed to 2019, when he likely will be moving from a state with obscenely high personal income tax to Nevada, which has none.
There’s no question that Carr has received an extremely significant financial reward. The full significance as to Carr, and as to other quarterbacks who will be trying to push the $25-million-per-year-in-new-money bar even higher, remains to be seen.
Tom Brady is known for constantly seeking new offseason training methods and this week he looked in an unusual place: A sumo stable.
Brady, who is on a promotional tour in Asia, worked out with the 355-pound sumo wrestler Goeido and asked the trainers questions about their sport, which requires a great deal of balance and power.
“For them to welcome me means very much to me. It’s hard to describe in words how special that was,” Brady told the Kyodo News.
When it comes to offseason workouts, a lineman could probably benefit more from sumo training than a quarterback could, but Brady will leave no stone unturned in his quest to keep playing at a high level into his mid-40s.
Derek Carr said we’d hear it from him first.
And now we have.
The Raiders quarterback played reporter Thursday morning, confirming via Twitter that his contract is finished.
He promised us as much yesterday, upon the reports from the insiders which declared the deal was “close.”
The deal has been pegged at $25 million per year, which would make him the highest-paid player in the league.
At a time when Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has received plenty of praise for his work during the offseason, his coach has opted for pragmatism regarding the things that will, or won’t, happen when Martin returns from the final three games of his PED suspension.
Asked during an appearance on the Ira Kaufman Podcast, via JoeBucsFan.com, how Martin’s return will be handled if the Buccaneers are moving the ball well at that time.
“Well, you answered your own question,” Koetter said. “That is all hypothetical, all right? Everything — how do I know if everything is going to go that way? Hopefully, at the end of the three games Doug is still in good health. But we have no idea what is going to happen to our other tailbacks by then. So, I don’t spend too much time worrying about that kind of stuff. . . .
“How can you have too many good players? I sort of look at it as we will cross that bridge when we get to it, because, why worry about it until you have to? We have a lot of other stuff that we need to be concerned with. You know, if everything was 100 percent perfect — I don’t have experience with a guy taking three weeks off and then coming back. So, you will have practices in there and we would have to see how we are doing as an offense, how we are doing with our running game. We will just have to see.”
That’s hardly an unequivocal endorsement, and it’s hard not to wonder whether the Buccaneers, who owe Martin no guaranteed money due both to the suspension and the fact that (despite being a vested veteran) he won’t be on the Week One active roster, will consider dumping Martin if the other tailbacks on the roster are getting it done. It’s likewise impossible to rule out a trade, given that other teams may have needs at the position by the end of September, due to the inevitability of the injury bug.
Regardless, there’s a good chance that the running game will be thriving without Martin, given the extra attention defenses will be devoting to stopping one of the best collections of pass catchers in the game. Rarely if ever will the Bucs be facing eight men in the box, while will make it easier to establish the run with players who are younger and cheaper than Martin.
When last we heard about free agent cornerback Alterraun Verner, he was working out for the Jaguars in hopes of finding a home for the 2017 season.
That workout did not result in a contract and a report from Jacksonville said that Verner, who was released by the Buccaneers early in the offseason, was not in good shape when he got on the field for the Jags. That may explain why Verner is one of the few members of PFT’s Hot 100 free agents still without a team, but he said on Sirius XM NFL Radio this week that he expects that to change soon.
“I’ve worked out for a few teams including the Jaguars. I feel very confident something will happen come late summer,” Verner said.
Verner didn’t play very well in Tampa, but would give a team some experienced depth in camp this summer. That wouldn’t come with a guarantee beyond the chance to compete for a roster spot, although that’s not insignificant for a player who remains unsigned with June drawing to a close.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell may be the most hated man in New England, but he was able to make it through the Boston airport unscathed.
Goodell was able to walk through Logan International Airport without anyone bothering him after returning home from a trip to Israel organized by Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
The commish hasn’t attended a Patriots home game since cracking down on the team over Deflategate, and Rob Gronkowski has said that Patriots fans wouldn’t let Goodell get from the airport to Gillette Stadium.
But Goodell is expected to attend the season opener at Gillette Stadium in September, and he now knows that he can get into and out of the airport without any fanfare.