With two new, high-priced players signed by the Vikings, something had to give. And give it did with the decision to release veteran slot receiver Jarius Wright.
Wright, who has survived seemingly annual efforts to render him moot by stepping up at the right time with big catches on third down, was cut within the past hour by the Vikings.
A fourth-round pick in 2012, Wright was due to earn $3.6 million this year in base salary. The move creates $2.12 million in dead money, which will be split equally between 2018 and 2019, if the Vikings opted to make the move a post-June 1 transaction.
Wright caught only 18 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns during the 2017 regular season. He had six catches for 107 yards in a pair of playoff games.
Michael Crabtree has returned to the Ravens facility as the sides near a deal, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports.
Crabtree had remained behind at a Baltimore hotel while his agent negotiated with the Ravens on Friday.
The Raiders released Crabtree on Thursday after reaching an agreement with Jordy Nelson. Crabtree had a cap hit of $7.7 million this season.
Crabtree, 30, made 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
The Ravens have been seeking an upgrade at the position. They cut Jeremy Maclin earlier this week.
The Raiders released a pair of cornerbacks this offseason before losing another in free agency and now they’ve added a pair of free agents as they work to rebuild the group.
Word of their deal with Shareece Wright broke on Friday afternoon and the Raiders added Rashaan Melvin to their haul. According to multiple reports, Melvin, who visited the team on Friday, signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract.
Melvin was having a strong year for the Colts in 2017 before a hand injury sent him to injured reserve for the final weeks of the season. He had 36 tackles and three interceptions in 10 starts after making 52 tackles and forcing a fumble in 15 appearances for the Colts in 2016.
The two newcomers will join 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley at the top of the depth chart and they’ll likely continue to be on the lookout for others who could help in the secondary this season.
The Chargers have badly needed an upgrade at kicker for two years, and they may have finally found it.
Caleb Sturgis will sign with the Chargers, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
Sturgis was a 2013 fifth-round pick of the Dolphins who spent two years in Miami and then signed with the Eagles in 2015. He was their kicker for two seasons but suffered a Week One hip injury in 2017 and was lost for the season. Now he’s healthy and, the Chargers hope, ready to improve their special teams.
The Chargers also visited with free agent kicker Sebastian Janikowski, but it appears they’ll stick with Sturgis, and Janikowski will have to look elsewhere.
The Jets are holding onto a member of their defensive line group from last season.
The agents for Mike Pennel announced that their client has agreed to a three-year deal to stay put. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the deal is worth up to $12 million.
Pennel joined the Jets after being released by the Packers early last year. He saw action in all 16 games for the Jets last season, making three starts and ending the year with 35 tackles. He played just over 27 percent of the defensive snaps and also saw action on 26 percent of the team’s special teams plays.
The Jets released defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson ahead of the start of the league year and defensive end Kony Ealy, who joined the team last August, is a free agent.
The Panthers have added a new member to their offensive line group by hitting the waiver wire.
The team announced on Friday that they have claimed tackle Zach Banner off of waivers. Banner was one of eight players waived by the Browns on Thursday.
Banner was a fourth-round pick by the Colts last season, but failed to make the team out of training camp. He was claimed off of waivers by the Browns and saw action in eight games during his rookie season.
The Panthers have left tackle Matt Kalil, right tackle Daryl Williams and 2017 second-round pick Taylor Moten back for the 2018 season. Backup Amini Silatolu is a free agent, though, and Banner will try to land a depth role with his third team in less than a year as a pro player.
The Browns weren’t going to sign AJ McCarron after acquiring Tyrod Taylor from the Bills. But Browns coach Hue Jackson gave McCarron a plug to Bills General Manager Brandon Beane.
“I actually spoke to Hue Jackson the night before we signed him, texted with two other coaches of his that I know,” Beane said in a press conference Friday, via quotes distributed by the team. “And the one word they told me about AJ that got me fired up was ‘competitor,’ and I love that.
“This guy has an edge to him. He’s been backing up Andy Dalton, who’s their franchise guy. He filled in I believe four games, should’ve won a playoff game, had an unfortunate fumble, but they were down 15-0, I believe in the fourth, and he brought them back, made a big throw to A.J. Green. We watched every throw of his and what he did and thought he did some real good things. Thought he’s got upside and that’s what he’ll do.”
The Browns botched a trade for McCarron at the trade deadline October 31. Jackson was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator when McCarron went 2-2 in 2015 as the starter for an injured Dalton.
But when they had a chance to acquire him in free agency, the Browns instead traded for Taylor.
The Raiders have signed their third defensive free agent in the last two days.
Cornerback Shareece Wright posted a picture of the team’s logo on Instagram Friday and Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal confirms that he is signing with the team.
Wright spent last season with the Bills and started five of the 12 games he played for the team. He ended the season with 44 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble.
Wright started his NFL career as a third-round pick of the Chargers in 2011. Safety Marcus Gilchrist was also part of that draft class and he’ll be Wright’s teammate again after signing with the Raiders on Thursday.
The Raiders also visited with cornerback Rashaan Melvin on Friday, so the defensive additions may continue in Oakland.
Running back Latavius Murray will be paid less this year. Next year, he could be paid more.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Murray agreed to reduce his $5.15 million base salary this year. The specific amount of his new base salary is not yet known.
In return, his base salary is now fully guaranteed. More importantly, the final year of his three-year deal has been wiped out, allowing him to become a free agent in 2019.
Murray joined the Vikings as a free agent in 2017, signing a three-year deal after spending four with the Raiders.
The Texans claimed receiver Sammie Coates off waivers from the Browns, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports.
Coates, 24, has played 33 games with six starts since entering the league as a third-round pick of the Steelers in 2015. Pittsburgh traded him to the Browns on September 2.
Coates made only six catches for 70 yards in 12 games with the Browns.
Cleveland is loaded at the position after acquiring Jarvis Landry in a trade with the Dolphins, leading the Browns to waive Coates on Thursday.
The Vikings have tied up plenty of cash and cap space this week on a new quarterback and a new defensive tackle. Along the way, they freed up cap space via one of the free-agent contracts signed a year ago.
Via Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com, the Vikings restructured the contract of running back Latavius Murray. Although the report lacks specifics as to how the contract was tweaked, it’s likely given the structure of Murray’s deal that the Vikings didn’t simply move money around but persuaded him to take less cash this season.
Murray’s three-year deal originally had a $5.15 million salary and a $6.35 million cap number. With the salary due to become fully guaranteed on Friday, the Vikings needed to get something done — or cut Murray loose — by today.
New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo used multiple tailbacks in Philadelphia, so Murray may end up being something more than simply a change-of-pace option behind Dalvin Cook. Either way, Murray’s stay in Minnesota won’t end at one year.
Whatever the pay cut he took, it’s safe to say that whatever the Vikings offered was as good or better than what he would have earned somewhere else.
UPDATE 4:48 p.m. ET: Murray has agreed to reduce his salary. In return, the third year of his contract has been voided.
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland‘s deal with the Panthers fell through on Friday when Breeland failed a physical with the team for a non-football injury.
The injury took place earlier this month while Breeland was in the Dominican Republic. Breeland told David Newton of ESPN.com that he cut the back left foot on his trip and will need to have skin grafted to repair it, which was also the case when he suffered the same injury in the fourth grade. Breeland did not initially believe the injury to be serious as he can still walk on it because the previous one has never impacted him before.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Breeland is believed to be months away from being able to pass a physical.
The deal he agreed to with the Panthers was for three years and $24 million. He’ll likely be signing a very different deal once he reaches that point.
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph proclaimed Paxton Lynch the backup to Case Keenum, but the team continues to look at the top quarterback prospects in the draft.
General Manager John Elway was among the team personnel to attend Pro Days for Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen the past two days. Elway won’t attend Josh Allen‘s Pro Day at Wyoming, but team scouts will, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reports, and the Broncos have a private workout scheduled with Sam Darnold.
With Keenum in the fold, the Broncos aren’t forced to take a quarterback. But the option is there if they like one of the top prospects.
“We have a lot of opportunities at No. 5 now,” Elway said, via quotes distributed by the team. “We’re in good spots there. We’re high in a lot of rounds, so it’s going to be important to find guys who are going to help our football team.”
The Broncos used the 26th overall choice in 2016 on Lynch, but he has only four starts. He is 1-3 with four touchdowns and four interceptions.
Joseph said he has talked to Lynch since the acquisition of Keenum, and Elway said the Broncos haven’t given up on the 24-year-old quarterback.
“Paxton is still young,” Elway said. “We still have high hopes for Paxton. He’s a young guy that is talented. He’s been here for two years and had a tough year last year with the injuries and everything, but we still have high hopes for Paxton to come in here and compete and continue to grow as a quarterback. That is the expectation for Paxton.”
Offensive lineman Matt Tobin is in New England today visiting with the Patriots, Field Yates of ESPN reports.
Tobin, 27, spent four seasons in Philadelphia after signing as an undrafted free agent. He spent last season in Seattle after the Eagles traded him.
Tobin has played 57 games with 21 starts. He played 15 games last season.
The Patriots, who have lost several players in free agency, have had several players scheduled to visit the past couple of days. Jeremy Hill, Adrian Clayborn and Delvin Breaux all had trips scheduled to New England.
Patrick Mahomes has his veteran backup.
Longtime backup quarterback Chad Henne has signed with the Chiefs, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports.
Mahomes, last year’s first-round draft pick, is the unquestioned starter in Kansas City. But they need someone to back him up, and until Henne signed Mahomes was the only quarterback on the roster. The Chiefs will presumably add another quarterback or two before training camp, but Mahomes and Henne should be 1-2 on the depth chart.
The 32-year-old Henne is heading into his 11th NFL season. He spent the last three seasons in Jacksonville but threw only two passes, so it’s anyone’s guess whether he still has anything left. But the Chiefs wanted a veteran to share the quarterback room with Mahomes, and now they have that veteran.