Category Archives: NFL

Panthers sign quarterback Kyle Allen to a one-year deal

The Panthers have signed quarterback Kyle Allen to a one-year contract extension.

Allen was an exclusive rights free agent, meaning the Panthers essentially held all of his rights. The financial terms were not available on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old Allen replaced an injured Cam Newton in Week 3 last campaign. Allen started off his second NFL season by leading Carolina to four consecutive wins, but struggled down the stretch and was eventually replaced by rookie Will Grier when the Panthers fell out of playoff contention.

Allen concluded the season 5-7 as a starter. He threw for 3,322 yards with a 62 percent completion rate, but turnovers were a major problem. Allen combined for 23 turnovers – 16 on interceptions and seven on fumbles – and had just 17 touchdown passes.

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It’s unclear where Allen stands in the pecking order at quarterback this season.

The Panthers haven’t made a clear ruling on whether Newton will return in 2020.

Newton has one year left on his contract, but the team could save $19 million under this year’s NFL salary if it decides to cut or release the injury-plagued quarterback. Newton has struggled with elbow and foot issues the last two seasons and has lost his last eight starts for Carolina.

He has shown steady progress and has posted numerous videos and pictures on social media showing him throwing and moving on his left foot without limitation.

Grier is also under contract, and it’s possible the Panthers could select a quarterback with the No. 7 overall pick.

Newton is expected to be ready to begin offseason workouts on April 6 at least on a limited basis

Allen becomes the fifth exclusive rights free agent to re-sign with Carolina, joining defensive end Efe Obada, running back Reggie Bonnafon, kicker Joey Slye and defensive back Cole Luke.

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Jets to release CB Trumaine Johnson

Trumaine Johnson’s time with the New York Jets is done, in a surprise to absolutely no one. 

The team has informed Johnson, their high-paid cornerback, that he will be released in the upcoming days, a source confirmed. 

The move likely won’t be made official until the CBA situation is clarified for next year. The Jets must cut him by the third day of the new league year (March 20), when his contract becomes fully guaranteed.

Johnson leaves the Jets near the very top of a long list of terrible free agency signings– a reminder of how difficult it can be to rebuild a crew by throwing big contracts at big problems as they go into general manager Joe Douglas’ first free agency with the team next week. 

The New York Daily News first reported Johnson had been informed of his release.

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When the Jets signed Johnson to a five-year, $72.5 million deal just two years ago, they thought they were getting one of the best available cornerbacks on the market and their lock-down answer on the outside. Instead, they got an underperforming player who was burned repeatedly, committed brutal penalties in key spots, couldn’t stay healthy and became a distraction off the field. 

He was benched during the final match of his first campaign for tardiness and early in his second season for poor play. 

In the end, Johnson played only 17 matches in two seasons for the Jets, while collecting $34 million. Yes, that’s $2 million per game.

And while he’s gone, he certainly will not be forgotten. By moving on, the Jets might save only $3 million and carry $12 million of dead money into next season if the CBA stays the same. 

Under a new CBA, they would be able to spread the dead money over two seasons saving them some more space.

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Marty Mornhinweg returns to Eagles staff as consultant

Eight years after leaving the Philadelphia Eagles along with the Andy Reid regime, Marty Mornhinweg has returned to the team under another former Reid assistant, joining Doug Pederson’s 2020 staff as a senior offensive consultant.

First reported by ESPN’s Tim McManus, the news has since been announced by the Eagles. It comes almost exactly a month after Pederson added a slew of other offensive assistants in place of jettisoned coordinator Mike Groh, former Denver Broncos coordinator Rich Scangarello and former Mississippi State assistant Andrew Breiner among them.

Pederson will not carry an official offensive coordinator this campaign, in part because he’ll keep calling plays with a number of voices, including that of promoted passing game coordinator Press Taylor, chipping into game planning. Mornhinweg, however, brings a vast amount of experience to that side of the ball, not to mention a shared history with Pederson.

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Most recently serving as the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive coordinator from 2016-2018, the 57-year-old Mornhinweg is originally a disciple of Mike Holmgren, coaching alongside Reid with the Green Bay Packers from 1995-1996. He’s perhaps best regarded for his time with the Eagles (2003-2012), during which he helped guide the team to Super Bowl XXXIX as an assistant head coach and later transitioned the offense for Michael Vick’s 2010 MVP campaign.

Mornhinweg previously spent four years under Steve Mariucci with the San Francisco 49ers and served as the Detroit Lions’ head coach from 2001-2002.

Mornhinweg started with the Ravens in 2015 as the team’s quarterbacks coach then moved up to OC a year later in place of Marc Trestman. After Baltimore hired Greg Roman as his replacement for 2019, the longtime assistant spent this past season out of the league.

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Bills promote Leslie Frazier to assistant head coach

Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier obtained the additional job title of assistant head coach on Wednesday.

Frazier was hired as the Bills’ defensive coordinator in 2017 and quickly turned around a unit that was ranked 26th in the NFL in yards allowed to top-2 and top-3 finishes, respectively, in the last two seasons.

“Upon taking the job in Buffalo, it was important to me to add a coach with previous head coaching experience like Leslie,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said.

“His fingerprints are all over our operation and I’m extremely grateful for all the years we have worked together. Leslie’s impact on our team is felt every day through his guidance, wisdom, and his genuine care for people. He is a great example to everyone within our organization.”

Frazier, 60, will be an assistant head coach for the third time in his NFL career. He also served in that role with the Indianapolis Colts in 2006 and Minnesota Vikings in 2008.

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Frazier, who was also the head coach of the Vikings from 2010-13, was thrilled with the promotion.

“I’m definitely pleased and honored that Sean along with Kim and Terry (Pegula) would feel moved to place that title alongside my name,” Frazier said. “I don’t know how much it changes my role. I feel like Sean and I communicate on so many things regarding our team. I just appreciate that our ownership along with our head coach felt the desire to put that title next to my name. Just very appreciative.”

Frazier started his NFL coaching career with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999 until 2002, where he worked with McDermott on Jim Johnson’s defensive staff. He coached with the Cincinnati Bengals and Colts before joining the Vikings.

Frazier’s prior experience — both as a head coach and with McDermott — made him a priority hire for McDermott when he was named a first-time head coach with Buffalo in 2017.

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Jaguars to use franchise tag on DE Yannick Ngakoue

The Jacksonville Jaguars kept one of the most consistent pass-rushers in the league on their defensive front Monday when they reportedly used the franchise tag on Yannick Ngakoue.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Jaguars plan to use the tag but could trade Ngakoue at a later date. Ngakoue tweeted he informed the team he does not plan to sign a long-term contract. Schefter added the “tag for DEs carries an approximate salary of $19.3 million.”

Ngakoue, who turns 25 on March 31, wanted a new deal before last season, but negotiations broke down and he skipped most of OTAs as well as the mandatory minicamp.

The Jaguars reportedly offered a deal that averaged $19 million annually while Ngakoue’s camp was looking for something similar to the $22 million that quarterback Nick Foles signed for.

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He held out of the first 11 days of training camp and was fined $528,650, which included $88,650 for skipping the three-day minicamp in June. Ngakoue made $2.02 million last campaign.

“The Jaguars are aware I no longer have interest in signing a long term contract in Jacksonville. Duval, I love you and gave you guys everything I got. I’m thankful for the journey and look forward to continuing my career elsewhere,” Ngakoue tweeted.

Ngakoue played the first four seasons of his career in Jacksonville.

“But I would say that’s priority No. 1 to make sure he comes back to Jacksonville and that he’s a Jacksonville Jaguar,” general manager David Caldwell previously told reporters. “Hopefully, we can get that done where he’s here for a long period of time.”

Ngakoue was a 2017 Pro Bowler with 12 sacks, six forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries and finished with at least eight sacks in each of his first four seasons since the Jaguars selected in the third round in 2016.

This past season, he forced four fumbles to go with his eight sacks, an interception and a defensive touchdown. Ngakoue will be 25 years old during the 2020 season.

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Tom Brady open to new home in free agency

Tom Brady is not likely to return to the New England Patriots, the team he has led to six Super Bowl titles over 20 seasons, according to multiple reports.

The 42-year-old can leave the Patriots as a free agent in the coming months, and ESPN and The Athletic both stated that Brady will not return to New England.

Under NFL rules Brady would not be able to enter talks with other teams until 16 March. According to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, Brady is also open to talking to the Patriots about extending his career in New England, but that does not ensure he will stay.

One reason why the Patriots and Brady haven’t had any contract discussions is the uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

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Once that is known, Belichick and Brady can discuss everything, including how a contract could be structured.

“Without knowing about the CBA, that talk can’t happen,” one source told Schefter.

Brady endured a disappointing season by his high standards in 2019.

He threw for 24 touchdowns, his lowest total in a full campaign since 2006, although he was hampered by a lack of support from his receiving corps and offensive line. The Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans in the wildcard round of the playoffs.

Brady, who turns 43 in August, is a three-time NFL MVP and four-time Super Bowl MVP. He has led the league in touchdown passes four times and is one of only four quarterbacks to throw for more than 70,000 yards.

A number of teams have been linked with Brady, if he does leave the Patriots. They include the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers and Carolina Panthers.

He has said in the past that he is capable of playing well into his mid-40s and beyond.

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Giants release team captain Alec Ogletree

The New York Giants released team captain Alec Ogletree and fellow linebacker Kareem Martin on Wednesday, opening up about $13 million in salary cap space.

Ogletree joined the Giants in a 2018 trade from the Los Angeles Rams. The Giants signed Martin to a three-year contract in 2018.

Ogletree, 28, was under contract through 2021. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound defender had 80 total tackles, six passes defensed, an interception and a sack in 13 starts in 2019. Ogletree had 93 tackles, eight passes defensed, five interceptions, two touchdowns and a sack in 13 matches in 2018. Cutting Ogletree saves the Giants $8.25 million against the salary cap.

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Ogletree was the No. 30 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

The Georgia product has 676 tackles, 57 passes defensed, 41 tackles for a loss, 12 interceptions, 12 forced fumbles, 7.5 sacks, four touchdowns and two fumble recoveries in 93 career starts.

The veteran was again slated to make $10 million in 2020 and was in route to be the fourth-highest-paid inside linebacker in the NFL, but none of the money was guaranteed.

Ogletree played the first five years of his career with the Rams, topping 100 tackles in three of his first four campaigns. The second-team All-Pro in 2016 has career totals of 674 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles and 12 interceptions. He also has four defensive touchdowns.

The Giants signed Martin to a three-year, $21 million contract one day after getting Ogletree in March 2018. Martin spent his first four seasons in the league with the Arizona Cardinals.

Martin played in all 16 matches in his first season in New York and had a career-high 48 tackles. But a knee injury in the 2019 season opener limited him to five games last season.

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Kicker Mason Crosby, Packers reach 3 year deal

The Green Bay Packers and kicker Mason Crosby have reached to a new three-year deal, per his agent Mike McCartney

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the contract is worth $12.9 million.

Crosby enjoyed a career-high 91.7 percent field-goal success rate (22-of-24) last year. He was a perfect 14-of-14 from 39 or fewer yards.

The 35-year-old out of the University of Colorado will be entering his 14th campaign in the NFL next year, all with Green Bay.

Crosby won Super Bowl XLV with the Packers in 2011, going 3-of-4 on field goals and hitting all 16 of his extra points in the postseason.

The signing does not come as a surprise considering that Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst told Mike Spofford of Packers.com that he wanted Crosby back.

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“I think when you have a guy who has been through the fire like Mason has, for a guy in my position it makes us feel very comfortable,” Gutekunst said. “He obviously had an excellent year last year. He’s a big part of our team, a big part of what we’re trying to do here. I’m very hopeful that will reach the right ending.”

A veteran of 10 NFL postseasons, Crosby has shined when the lights are brightest, hitting 26 of 29 playoff field goals and all 65 of his extra points.

He notably drilled field goals of 56 and 51 yards in the final 1:33 of a 2017 NFC Divisional Round Game in a road upset over the Dallas Cowboys.

He’s also been a reliable source of points for 14 years as he hasn’t missed a match since the Pack picked him in the sixth round of the 2007 draft.

Crosby and the Packers will look to build off a 13-3 NFC North-winning campaign that saw the team reach the NFC Championship Game.

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Detroit Lions release DT Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison

Damon “Snacks” Harrison held out of OTAs and minicamps during last year’s offseason to get a contract extension from the Detroit Lions.

He eventually got that extension. Now, the team is releasing the former All-Pro defensive tackle, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

One of the top interior run-stuffers in the league for years, Harrison posted 49 total tackles last campaign — his lowest total since his rookie year — for a Detroit defense that was 13th in the league against the run.

The Lions will save $6,718,750 in salary cap space by releasing Harrison. Detroit had a cap hit of $11,718,750 on Harrison if they kept the defensive tackle on the roster for the 2020 season.

Harrison started 15 matches for the Lions in 2019, finishing with 49 tackles, two sacks and three passes defensed. He had 5.5 sacks and 49 tackles in 25 games with the Lions, who acquired him for a conditional 2019 fifth-round draft-pick from the New York Giants prior to the 2018 trade deadline. A First Team All-Pro with the Giants in 2016, Harrison had 86 tackles and 2.5 sacks at nose tackle that season.

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Harrison tearfully told reporters at the end of last campaign that he is considering retirement this offseason, and that is reportedly still a possibility.

If this is indeed it for Harrison, it will have been an impressive career for a player who was undrafted out of the NAIA’s William Penn University in Iowa (student population: 1,050).

Harrison’s release continues the Lions’ trend of parting ways with key defensive players. The Lions traded long-time safety Quandre Diggs (and a 2021 seventh-round pick) to the Seattle Seahawks for a 2020 fifth-round pick at the trade deadline last season, just one year after Diggs signed a three-year, $20.4 million contract extension.

The Lions have also talked to multiple teams about a Darius Slay trade this offseason after fielding offers for the Pro Bowl cornerback at the 2019 trade deadline. Slay is about to enter the final year of a four-year, $48.15 million extension, becoming a free agent after the season. 

The Lions are looking to rebuild a defense that finished 26th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed. Trading Harrison just expedited that process.

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Rams promote Sophie Luoto to director of football operations

The LA Rams have long been the leader of breaking barriers in the NFL. The team is breaking another by promoting Sophie Luoto to Director of Football Operations.

The LA Rams continue the age-old tradition cherished by the city of Los Angeles of removing barriers in the professional sports scene. And so it is with great pleasure, and no surprise, that the LA Rams will be promoting Sophie Luoto to the Director of Football Operations.

Luoto graduated from U.C.L.A in 2010 with the dual major of mass communication and history.  Per the LA Rams Media guide published December 4, 2016, Luoto joined the team in 2015. She initially served as the liason between the COO and all LA Rams business personnel. 

She was likely heavily involved in the logistics of moving the then St. Louis Rams back to the Los Angeles area., quite a feat unto itself.

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Luoto will fill the vacated position of Bruce Warwick, who departed the organization after 10 years to become the chief of staff for coach Mike Norvell at Florida State University in December 2019.

With her promotion, Luoto will become the highest-ranking woman in the Rams organization and is among select few women in high-ranking football operations positions across the NFL.

Her duties involve directing team travel, which includes team travel for NFL matches, as well as all associated travel of scouts and prospects to various workouts, events, and destinations. She also will direct operations at the team practice facility as well as the team’s training camp at UC-Irvine.

Luoto, who graduated from UCLA, has spent the last four campaigns with the Rams serving as a manager in football operations. She previously worked at California-Berkeley as the director of recruiting operations.

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