Category Archives: NFL

Star receiver Julian Edelman, 34, retires, ending 12-year career with New England Patriots

Patriots star receiver Julian Edelman, who helped New England win three championships and was the MVP of Super Bowl LIII, declared his retirement in a video posted on social media Monday.

The NFL transaction wire released Monday stated that Edelman had his contract terminated by the Patriots, but the roster move is expected to be a technicality as part of his retirement, a source told ESPN.

“It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family,” Edelman said. “And I’m honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot. … It’s been the best 12 years of my life.”

Edelman, who turns 35 next month, was limited to six matches last season because of a chronic knee injury. He spent his entire 12-year career with the Patriots and ranks second in NFL history with 118 postseason receptions, behind only Jerry Rice’s 151.

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Edelman caps his career in second place on the all-time Patriots chart for receptions (620), behind only Wes Welker (672).

He is fourth on the team’s career receiving yards list with 6,822 receiving yards, behind only Stanley Morgan (10,352), Rob Gronkowski (7,861) and Welker (7,459).

Edelman was still playing at a high level last campaign, totaling a career-high 179 yards in a Week 2 loss to the Seahawks. But the nagging knee injury ultimately landed him on injured reserve in late October, and while there was hope he might return late in the season, he wasn’t healthy enough to be activated.

Because of his health, the Patriots went into the 2021 offseason unsure of Edelman’s status, which contributed to their agreeing to contracts with receivers Nelson Agholor (two years, $26 million, with $15 million guaranteed) and Kendrick Bourne (three years, $22.5 million, with $5.25 million guaranteed) on the first day of free agency.

Edelman was also entering the final year of his contract.

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Seattle Seahawks re-sign Damarious Randall, moving him to CB

The Seattle Seahawks have re-signed Damarious Randall and plan to move him back to cornerback, the team revealed Friday.

Randall played cornerback for his first three seasons with the Green Bay Packers, who drafted him 30th overall in 2015. He has also played safety and some nickelback.

Most of Randall’s 35 defensive snaps last campaign came at safety. He appeared in 10 matches with the Seahawks — mostly on special teams — after joining their practice squad in September.

It’s not clear if the Seahawks see Randall as an option at nickelback or on the outside.

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At 5-foot-11 and 196 pounds, the 28-year-old is smaller than what the Seahawks typically prefer in their perimeter cornerbacks. But D.J. Reed emerged for Seattle on the outside last season despite not having prototypical size.

The Seahawks’ other perimeter cornerbacks incorporate free-agent addition Ahkello Witherspoon and Tre Flowers, who has started 37 games for Seattle over the past three seasons.

Safety Ryan Neal has played cornerback in the past. Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair are returning at nickelback, although Blair is coming off a torn ACL.

The Seahawks wanted to re-sign cornerback Quinton Dunbar, but he signed with the Detroit Lions instead.

Other Seahawks corners with starting experience are D.J. Reed, who can play multiple positions and who finished the season starting at right cornerback and free-agent addition Ahkello Witherspoon, who started 33 games in four seasons with the 49ers, playing on both the left and right side.

Randall has 14 interceptions and 47 passes defensed over six NFL seasons. He spent three with Green Bay and two with the Cleveland Browns before landing in Seattle last year.

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Carolina Panthers, A.J. Bouye agree to contract

The Carolina Panthers on Wednesday agreed to a deal with free-agent cornerback A.J. Bouye as they attempt to improve their secondary heading into this month’s NFL draft.

Bouye, a Pro Bowler in 2017, will be suspended for the first two matches of the 2021 season as part of a six-game ban he received last year for violations of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

He will be permitted to participate in offseason and preseason practices, according to the league.

Carolina signed 10-year veteran corner Rashaan Melvin to a one-year deal earlier in free agency. Bouye, 29, was released by Denver in February after appearing in only seven games because of injuries and the suspension. He was traded to the Broncos from Jacksonville in March 2020, after being a big part of the Jaguars’ run to the AFC Championship Game in the 2017 season.

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Bouye entered the NFL in 2013 with Houston as an undrafted free agent.

He played well enough that he received a five-year, $67.5 million deal with Jacksonville in 2017.

He had six interceptions that season in 16 starts. He has only two picks since, and he had none for Denver last year. In 69 career starts, he has 14 interceptions overall.

Bouye likely will be penciled in as the starter in Carolina opposite Donte Jackson, who is in the last year of his rookie deal.

The former Central Florida standout will compete with Melvin, likely on the right side.

The addition of Bouye lessens the urgency to use the No. 8 pick of the draft on a corner. The team eliminated the need to draft a quarterback on Monday after trading with the New York Jets for Sam Darnold, but general manager Scott Fitterer stated that doesn’t totally precluded using the eighth pick on that position.

“What we wanted to do going into this draft through free agency, through this trade with Sam, was to just get rid of all the needs we have,” Fitterer said Monday.

“We wanted to get to a place where the roster was in a good spot, and we could take the best player at No. 8.”

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Cincinnati Bengals release RB Giovani Bernard after eight seasons

The Cincinnati Bengals have released veteran running back Giovani Bernard, the team revealed on Wednesday.

Bernard, 29, has played all of his eight NFL seasons with the franchise that drafted him in the second round in 2013. He has appeared in 115 matches and rushed for 3,697 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also had 342 receptions for 2,867 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The former North Carolina player was entering the final year of a two-year extension he signed in September of 2019. The Bengals will gain $4.1 million in salary-cap savings with Bernard’s release and incur only $666,667 in dead money versus the cap, according to Roster Management System.

Bernard started a career-high 10 games in 2020 because Joe Mixon was out with a foot injury. His best rushing performance was an 83-yard effort in a win over Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football, the Bengals’ first triumph over the Steelers since 2015. It was Bernard’s highest rushing total since Week 16 of the 2017 season.

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The Bengals have parted ways with several notable veterans who were part of the team’s playoff runs from 2011 to 2015.

The team released former All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins earlier this offseason and did not re-sign former Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green.

With his ability in the passing game and reliability as a runner in a committee, Bernard shouldn’t have difficulty landing a new gig. A club looking for a third-down back could find a bargain in the 29-year-old Bernard, who still has tread left on the tires.

Bernard is also one of the best pass-protecting backs in the entire NFL, a trait that many teams covet in their backup RBs. Cutting Bernard now makes running back depth a need for the Bengals. Joe Mixon remains one of the top-flight backs in the NFL, with game-breaking ability. 

Samaje Perine impressed coaches for stretches last season and should climb the depth chart. A pass-catching back is now a need for the Bengals, which could look to the draft to fill the new void.

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Quinton Dunbar, Detroit Lions reach 1-year deal

Veteran defensive back Quinton Dunbar is signing a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions, his agency, Elite Loyalty Sports, revealed Monday.

Dunbar joins the Lions after an injury-plagued season with the Seattle Seahawks, who added him last March only to see him play in six games — all starts — because of a knee problem that required season-ending surgery.

Dunbar, 28, finished 2020 with one interception and five passes defended.

Lions general manager Brad Holmes had said the secondary was an area of focus for his team, which also signed free-agent cornerback Corn Elder last week.

“The corner position — and I can say it with more than just the corner position — is a position that we’ll continue to address now throughout the entire process, up until the draft and even after the draft, if need be,” Holmes told reporters last week, according to The Detroit News.

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“But it’s definitely a position that is not gonna be overlooked or ignored. It is a young group that we have now. I really like the group that we have, in terms of the youth and the upside. … But that is a position that we’ll continue to look to address now and through the draft.”

The Seahawks acquired Dunbar for a fifth-round pick in a March trade with the Washington Football Team.

He missed most of the offseason program and the start of training camp while dealing with armed robbery charges that were later dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Dunbar made 25 starts over five seasons with Washington, which signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Florida in 2015. He started his NFL career as a wide receiver, then was converted to cornerback as a rookie. He has 10 career interceptions and a sack in his six seasons.

Washington signed Dunbar to a three-year, $10.5 million contract after the 2017 season. The Seahawks inherited the final year of that deal, which paid Dunbar roughly $3.34 million in 2020.

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Jets trade QB Sam Darnold to Panthers for package of NFL draft picks

The New York Jets seem to have cleared the way for the franchise to draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick and turn the keys over to him on Day 1.

The Jets have traded Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for a 2021 sixth-round pick and 2022 second-round and fourth-round picks, the Panthers announced on Twitter.

The Jets traded up in 2018 to use the No. 3 pick on Darnold. But the USC product had anything but a smooth transition to the NFL, and much of it had to do with the constant state of turmoil that the Jets have found themselves in. Already, he has played for two head coaches in three campaigns. 

In 2019, the Jets replaced Mike Maccagnan, who drafted Darnold, with current general manager Joe Douglas. “I want to publicly acknowledge the commitment, dedication, and professionalism Sam displayed while with the Jets,” Douglas stated Monday in a statement. “He is a tough-minded, talented football player whose NFL story has not been written yet.

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While all these things are true, this move is in the short- and long-term best interests for both this team and him.

We thank Sam for all of his work on behalf of this organization and wish him well as he continues his career.”

The Jets fired Todd Bowles following Darnold’s rookie year and this offseason dismissed Adam Gase after two turbulent seasons. Robert Saleh was hired as head coach, and Darnold faced an unclear future with the organization holding the second overall pick and positioned to take one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft.

Jets brass, including Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, attended BYU quarterback Zach Wilson’s impressive pro day two weeks ago.

It’s expected that the Panthers will exercise the fifth-year option on Darnold’s contract, giving him two seasons to work to reboot his career with Carolina.

Offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who is considered one of the NFL’s bright, young minds, will be tasked with helping Darnold, who ranked 35th in the league in 2020 with a passer rating of 72.7, live up to the potential that he boasted coming out of college.

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Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy returning to calling plays on offense

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy has ended any expectation over who will call the team’s offensive plays in 2021.

The former NFL Coach of the Year confirmed on Friday that he will handle playcalling duties after temporarily ceding the responsibility to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor for a time last season.

“I’m going to be the one calling the plays this year, and so I know that you’ll probably be asking that, so we can just let you know that from the front end,” Nagy said on a Zoom call.

Last year, the Bears struggled to find any rhythm on offense until a late-season three-game winning streak lifted Chicago to a wild-card playoff berth.

The Bears concluded the 2020 season ranked near the bottom in most offensive statistical categories.

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However, Nagy expressed enthusiasm over Chicago’s acquisition of veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, who is the team’s new starter after former second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky signed with Buffalo in free agency.

Veteran Nick Foles is penciled in as Chicago’s No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart.

“Some things will be a little bit different (on offense),” Nagy stated.

“There’s going to be some things that Andy likes that Mitch and Nick hated, and vice versa. But we’re going to work together to figure out what that is. So you know, as a personnel department, as Ryan Pace as the GM, myself as the head coach and a coaching staff, when we collectively came together and said, hey, when you go through free agency and you look at everybody that’s available, it was really a consensus for us to get Andy in here and move forward as the starting quarterback.”

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Seattle Seahawks giving WR Tyler Lockett a $69.2M extension

The Seahawks are giving wide receiver Tyler Lockett a four-year, $69.2 million contract extension that incorporates $37 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday.

Lockett was entering the final season of a three-year, $31.8 million extension he signed in 2018. He has had his three best seasons since then, with 28 receiving touchdowns (fifth among NFL wide receivers) and 3,076 yards (13th).

The $17.3 million new-money average in Lockett’s extension ranks 10th among NFL wide receivers, according to Spotrac.com.

Lockett, 28, was a third-round pick by Seattle in 2015. He made the Pro Bowl and was a first-team All-Pro as a returner in his rookie season, then came back from a compound leg fracture late in the 2016 season to start every game in 2017.

He has since supplanted the retired Doug Baldwin as Seattle’s No. 1 receiver. Last season, Lockett and DK Metcalf became only the second pair of Seahawks receivers in team history to each top 1,000 yards in the same year.

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With Metcalf a year away from becoming eligible for what is expected to be a massive payday, there was no guarantee that Seattle would reinvest in Lockett with a third contract.

Lockett was set to have the third-largest cap hit of any Seahawks player in 2021 at $14.95 million. His extension lowers that number to around $7 million, a source told ESPN.

That gives Seattle some needed breathing room against the cap and is one reason for the timing of Lockett’s extension, which comes much earlier in the offseason than when the Seahawks typically do new deals for players who are under contract.

Lockett has shown a knack for improbable catches. Among players with at least 200 targets, he has the second-highest catch percentage over expectation since 2018 at plus-12%, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

That ability was on display during an overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals last campaign, when Lockett turned in the most productive game of his career with 15 catches for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

“It’s one thing to make a catch like that some time in your life, but to do it every time you get a chance, it’s pretty crazy — and particularly under pressure and the stress of the game and the situation, all that,” coach Pete Carroll said after that game.

“He’s a phenomenal, phenomenal football player.”

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Colt McCoy signs 1-year deal with Arizona Cardinals, will back up Kyler Murray

The Red River Rivalry is coming to Arizona Cardinals’ quarterbacks room.

Colt McCoy, the former Texas standout, signed a one-year deal with Arizona, where he will back up former Oklahoma star Kyler Murray, the team revealed Tuesday night.

The Cardinals let quarterback Brett Hundley, who backed up Murray in 2019 and was the team’s third-string quarterback in 2020, walk in free agency, leaving the team with former CFL quarterback Chris Streveler as Murray’s backup.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury, a former standout quarterback at Texas Tech before becoming the Red Raiders’ head coach from 2013 to 2018, had thrown his support behind Streveler as his selection to be Murray’s back-up multiple times last season.

McCoy could fill Hundley’s role as the veteran presence in the Cardinals’ quarterbacks room while being inactive all season.

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McCoy has played for four teams in his 11-year NFL career, most recently spending the 2020 season with the New York Giants.

He played in four matches with two starts last season, while throwing for 375 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

McCoy also played for the Washington Football Team from 2014 to 2019, the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 and the Cleveland Browns from 2010 to 2012.

A third-round pick of the Browns in 2010, McCoy has been a backup for the majority of his career. He started 21 games in his first two seasons, including 13 in 2011 with the Browns but has started just nine games while playing in 23 in the last nine seasons.

In his career, McCoy has played in 44 games (with 30 starts) and thrown for 6,455 yards and 30 touchdowns while completing 600-of-989 pass attempts (60.7%). He has rushed for 509 yards and two touchdowns on 139 carries.

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Minnesota Vikings, safety Xavier Woods reach 1-year deal

The Minnesota Vikings agreed to a contract with free-agent safety Xavier Woods, the team revealed.

Terms were not disclosed but a source confirmed to ESPN on Saturday that it’s a one-year, $2.25 million deal that contains $1.75 million guaranteed.

The 25-year-old Woods, who developed into a versatile safety with the ability to cover the slot over his first four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, is expected to fill the Vikings’ opening at free safety opposite Harrison Smith after Anthony Harris’ departure in free agency.

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After concluding the season ranked 29th in points allowed and 27th in yards allowed, Minnesota has focused its efforts on the defensive side.

In addition to Woods, the Vikings have acquired only defensive players in free agency — defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, linebacker Nick Vigil and cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander as head coach Mike Zimmer looks to revamp a unit that allowed 29.7 points per game in 2020 (third-worst in the NFL).

A sixth-round draft pick in 2017, Woods became a full-time starter in his second season with the Cowboys and started his last 44 matches, missing four games over three seasons because of injury.

Heading into 2020, he was viewed as a cornerstone piece to the Cowboys’ secondary, but he struggled despite finishing second on the team with 72 tackles. He had just two tackles for loss, did not record a sack and had just two passes defended while not intercepting a pass for the first time in his career.

Woods can play both safety spots and also played as a nickel cornerback as a rookie.

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