Mike Florio takes a look at some of the current issues in the NFL. Florio wonders if the Redskins have multiple primetime games because the NFL has been reassured that Griffin will be healthy. Should Jimmy Haslam take part in the draft process for the Browns? Did DeAndre Hopkins and Mark Harrison hurt their draft stock with hotel room incident?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Is Haslam hurting the Browns?
It had been expected for some time and all but confirmed when the Vikings re-signed defensive end Everson Griffen, but defensive end Jared Allen made his departure from Minnesota official on Saturday night.
Allen’s agent Ken Harris said that Allen does not know where he’ll wind up playing in 2014, but that the decision was made to let the Vikings know that Allen’s time with the team was done.
“He made his decision to narrow it down [Saturday] night after I had a final conversation with the club,” Harris said, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.
After opening their wallet to sign Griffen and Brian Robison, the Vikings pretty much told Allen, the 16th-ranked free agent on PFT‘s Hot 100, the same thing. Allen’s run with the Vikings comes to an end after six seasons, 85.5 sacks and plenty of recognition as one of the best pass rushers in the league.
Those skills will now be put to use for another defense, with Allen saying last week that he’s looking for “a chance to win” and a “fair contract” above all else.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports that the team has set its sights on Jared Veldheer. The Raiders opted not to use the franchise or transition tag on Veldheer last week, leaving the 26-year-old on track to sign with any team he chooses come Tuesday.
Somers thinks Veldheer will come in as a cheaper alternative to Albert and points out that he’s three years younger than the longtime member of the Chiefs. They won’t be the only team chasing him, however, and the Raiders are believed to have made an offer to keep him.
Should Veldheer land elsewhere, the Cardinals will be moving on to other options. Somers reports that any interest they may have had in Rodger Saffold has “cooled.” Eugene Monroe, Michael Oher and Anthony Collins are some of the other tackles on PFT‘s list of the Hot 100 free agents.
With the Titans unwilling to pay running back Chris Johnson $8 million in 2014 and Johnson unwilling to take less, the Titans will be moving on.
Before they do, they’ll try to get value in return for the man they selected in the first-round of the 2008 draft, and to whom they’ve paid $30 million in the last three years.
Per a league source, the Titans soon will commence efforts to trade Johnson. If the Titans can find no takers, they will cut him.
It’s unclear when they would cut him. With no bonus coming due or a trigger to make all or part of the base salary guaranteed, the Titans don’t have to make a decision until the eve of Week One, when the full salary becomes guaranteed as a practical matter.
If he’s not cut before the launch of the offseason program, the Titans could face a repeat of the ugly final days of Steve McNair’s tenure with the team, when the Titans were hoping both to trade McNair and to keep him from suffering a potential season-ending injury while on the premises, which would have made his full salary guaranteed. They locked McNair out of the facility, he filed a grievance, and he eventually won.
From Johnson’s perspective, the sooner the release comes, the better. With a running back market that has yet to generate much buzz, Johnson would quickly go to the top of the class — eclipsing Ben Tate of the Texans, the No. 38 player on the PFT Free Agent Hot 100.
Cutting Johnson would result in a $4 million cap charge. That amount would be cut in half and spread over two years if he’s released with a post-June 1 designation.
Per a league source, here’s the situation.
Amendola’s contract paid him $8 million last year, via $6 million in signing bonus and a $2 million base salary. He also added $375,000 in roster bonuses, at $31,250 per game.
The trigger for $2 million in base salary becoming guaranteed as of the first day of the 2014 league year specifically was selected to ensure that Amendola, if cut, would be available on the first day of free agency.
If not, the $2 million becomes fully guaranteed on the first day of the league year.
A player can’t be released with a post-June 1 designation until the league year begins. This means that the Pats can’t cut Amendola with a post-June 1 designation without guaranteeing the $2 million.
But the guarantee has offset language, which means that the Patriots would keep up to $2 million based on Amendola’s 2014 compensation elsewhere.
The Patriots have four options: (1) cut Amendola before Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET, resulting in a $4.8 million cap charge in 2014; (2) cut Amendola after Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET with a post-June 1 designation, resulting in a $1.2 million cap charge in 2014 and $3.6 million in 2015, but guaranteeing up to $2 million in base salary if he doesn’t land elsewhere; (3) trade Amendola before June 1, resulting in a $4.8 million cap charge in 2014; or (4) keep Amendola, paying him up to $3.5 million and carrying a $4.543 million cap number.
It remains unlikely that the Patriots will cut or trade Amendola. But those are the options, along with the precise consequences for each.
There’s a chance, albeit small, that it’ll happen.
Per a league source, the Jets haven’t closed the door on re-signing Cromartie. However, it’s currently believed they have another cornerback already locked up.
Of course, the Jets aren’t currently permitted to have anything more than negotiations that don’t lead to an agreement. But the thinking is that, before cutting Cromartie loose, the Jets became satisfied that negotiations with another cornerback will become an offer and an acceptance as of 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
If the non-binding winking and nodding and negotiating falls apart by then, the Jets could be bringing back Cromartie.
Last year, the Dolphins nearly traded for Chiefs tackle Branden Albert. This year, they need only to make a deal with Albert himself.
Per a league source, all signs currently point to Albert signing with the Dolphins not long after the market officially opens on Tuesday.
Like Long, Albert was a first-round pick in 2008. After his rookie contract expired, Albert played in 2013 under the franchise tag.
If/when (when) Albert leaves the Chiefs, it’s possible that right tackle Eric Fisher, the first pick in the 2013 draft, will flip to the left side. It’s also possible that Fisher will stay on the right side and Donald Stephenson, who started seven games last year, will play the left side.
Antonio Cromartie saw it coming.
Appearing in January on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk, Cromartie said he expected to be a cap casualty. On Sunday, he was proven right.
“I think I am, just because my cap number is very high and I had one of the worst seasons of my career this past year,” Cromartie said.
Cutting Cromartie avoids a $5 million roster bonus due in March, a $4.3 million base salary, and a $200,000 workout bonus. That’s a total of $9.5 million that Cromartie would have been paid.
With the market for cornerbacks rebounding this year, Cromartie could still do fairly well on the open market. Between signing bonus and base salary, he could still get at least $9.5 million this year on a multi-year deal.
Especially if teams accept that his performance last year was the result of injury.
“I was banged up,” Cromartie said. “You know, I got hurt in Week Two but that’s not an excuse. You know, if I’m going to go out and go play every single week, I expect for myself to be playing at a high level and my teammates and my organization expects for me to be playing at a high level, so I never make excuses. You know, I just had a bad year. And that falls heavily on me and no one else.”
That kind of candor is rare and refreshing. It could help Cromartie, who still hasn’t turned 30, in his quest to find another job.
Now that the Vikings have opted to keep defensive end Everson Griffin, the numbers suggest that they won’t be able or inclined to keep Jared Allen.
With Brian Robison already signed to a four-year, $22 million deal, Griffen has a five-year, $42 million contract. Per a league source, Griffen gets $13 million fully guaranteed at signing. Another $7 million that is currently guaranteed for injury only becomes fully guaranteed next March.
So Griffen gets $13 million for one year or $20 million for two. And, of course, $42 million for five.
The Vikings paid Jared Allen $73 million over six years after trading for him in 2008. He played out the entire deal, and he’ll now undoubtedly sign with another team.
The move also takes the Vikings out of play for the other defensive ends who expect to be paid big money.
The Jets have told Antonio Cromartie he is being released.
Cromartie, who was viewed as a potential cap casualty, confirmed as much when he wrote a farewell message to the team and its fans on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.
“I would like 2 thank the Jets organization so much with helpin me grow as leader and a player. S/O 2 my teammates I wish u guys the best,” Cromartie wrote. “I would also like to give a big up to The Jets Fan base. Thank you for all the support thru my 4 yr career with you. Thank you again. It’s time for a new chapter in my life and now it’s time to let my lord and savior lead my steps every step of the way.”
The departure of Cromartie means the Jets will be big players in the free agent cornerback market. The Jets are believed to be very interested in signing Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner when free agency officially begins on Tuesday.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman suggested that his team might be more interested in addressing another position in the first round of the draft, and taking a quarterback on the second day of the draft.
“I think you can find quarterbacks in the second round and the third round, as well,” Spielman told the Star Tribune. “We’ve started that process on the evaluation part. I think we’re scheduled to go out there and see a lot of these quarterbacks through the spring and get to know them a little bit better. The one thing that I want to make sure we don’t do is box ourselves into having to take a quarterback if there’s another player that’s very significant at another position.”
With Matt Cassel signed for another two years, the Vikings may see Cassel as a player who can start this year while helping to groom a young quarterback who would be available on the second day of the draft, such as Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois or AJ McCarron of Alabama. Cassel may not be a long-term answer, but he may be a stopgap that gives the Vikings an opportunity to be patient for a quarterback to develop, rather than thinking they need a rookie to start right away.
All 32 teams can talk to agents for impending free agents around the league, but they can only sign contracts with players who were already on their rosters or those released around the league.
The Vikings have reportedly done both on Sunday. On the heels of word that defensive end Everson Griffen has landed a fat new contract to stay in Minnesota and forgo free agency comes a report from Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports that linebacker Jasper Brinkley has landed a one-year deal in Minnesota.
It’s a reunion for Brinkley and the Vikings after Brinkley’s stay with the Cardinals ended with his recent release. Brinkley, a 2009 fifth-round pick, was the starting middle linebacker for Minnesota in 2012 and the team is looking for someone to fill that role again now that Erin Henderson has been released. Brinkley’s got the run-stuffing chops to play a role on early downs, but will be stretched if he’s asked to do much beyond that.
Brinkley also visited with the Bills last week before settling on a return to his first NFL home.
Sometimes the early phone calls in the legal tampering period matter, and sometimes they don’t.
But if there was a surprise among the calls not made, it might be that the Browns didn’t check in with Bills safety Jairus Byrd yet.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Browns haven’t touched base with his representatives as of early Sunday afternoon.
Some level of interest in Byrd was assumed by many, given the success he had under now-Browns coach Mike Pettine last year, and the Browns’ potential vacancy with T.J. Ward hitting the market.
There’s still plenty of time for them to get in if they want in, but so far other teams have expressed more interest, or at least made more phone calls.
As one league source explains it to PFT, teams aren’t worried about Nicks’ foot or knee or any other part of his body. Teams are concerned about the thing propped on his neck.
While Nicks’ performances over the past two years can be attributed to injury, the concern isn’t whether he still can play. The concern is whether he truly still wants to play, at a high level.
Whether it’s a desire to be paid a lot of money or concern about injury or interest in doing things other than playing football, the concern is that Nicks lacks the motivation to perform like he did earlier in his career.
It remains to be seen whether those concerns are legitimate. And Nicks’ reported willingness to do a one-year deal suggests that someone has successfully communicated to him that he won’t simply be handed a huge pile of money for accomplishments from 2011 and earlier.
With plenty of receivers available in free agency and a healthy complement of incoming rookies at the position, Nicks’ best and only play may be a one-year deal that allows him to show that he’s still the guy who once seem destined for the big payday that won’t be coming in 2014.
The Vikings have gotten 17.5 sacks in a situational role from defensive end Everson Griffen over the last three years and it appears he’ll be back in Minnesota to give them more in 2014.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that Griffen is re-signing with the Vikings on what he calls a “huge” five-year deal. There’s no details about just how huge, but it supports what we’ve been hearing about deals being higher across the league in free agency this year than they were last year.
The Vikings aren’t giving Griffen, who ranked 19th on PFT‘s Hot 100 free agents, a big deal to continue as a situational pass rusher. Jared Allen is a free agent and keeping him doesn’t look like a priority for the Vikings, who also stand to lose veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams to another club. That means more work for Griffen and, it seems, a salary to match.
With the negotiating window open, teams looking for help at end have had a chance to let Griffen know how much they desired his services. Minnesota outbid them, though, which leaves Michael Johnson, Michael Bennett and Lamarr Houston set to be the top available players at the position.
Eventually, it will be Lance Briggs. And Lance Briggs knows it.
“It’s sad, man,” Briggs said of the recent departures of veteran Bears players, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “For a guy like me — and I know Peanut [Tillman] and Brian have been here a long time — we’ve seen a lot of guys come and go. I think we all know our time is coming. But it’s sad when it does. And I hate to see a guy like Devin, and what he’s meant to this city and to the Bears organization, not brought back. . . . It’s hard with the bond that you build with all your brothers. It kinda just sucks.”
Briggs remains hopeful that Tillman will re-sign with the Bears.
“One of my brothers didn’t get a chance to come back this past year, and hopefully the other one gets to stay,” Briggs said. “We’ll see.”
At some point, Tillman won’t be back. At some point, Briggs won’t be back. It’s a harsh reality of the modern NFL, where players received the freedom that comes with free agency but in turn experience the finality that comes from costing too much under the salary cap.
“When my time comes, I don’t expect anything more or less than a tweet saying, ‘We’re parting ways with Lance,’” Briggs said. “It’s not gonna hurt my feelings or anything like that.”
That day is coming for Briggs. And for Julius Peppers. And for Matt Forte. And Jay Cutler. And Brandon Marshall. And every other player who has been or will be a contributor to the Bears and every other NFL team.