Category Archives: NFL

Dolphins agree to trade edge rusher Charles Harris to Falcons

When Brian Flores took the reins as head coach of the organization in 2019, things didn’t exactly get off to a roaring start. The end of the campaign showed a sparky Dolphins team that could actually make some waves in the AFC East, but they would have to move around some pieces to become actual contenders. Their latest one comes at the expense of Charles Harris, a veteran pass rusher who was the team’s first-round pick in 2017 out of Missouri. 

Harris has allegedly been traded to the Atlanta Falcons, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, ending his time in South Florida and starting his next chapter in North Georgia, and in exchange for only a seventh-round pick.

The Dolphins are trading Harris only one day after they released Taco Charlton, another disappointing first-round pick from the 2017 draft class — a selection that hangs like an albatross around the neck of the Dallas Cowboys — as Flores and the Dolphins look to juice up their defensive front.

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They signed both Emmanuel Ogbah and Shaq Lawson in free agency and grabbed three defensive linemen in the 2020 NFL Draft, hinting at more changes to come.

The NFL deadline for exercising a former first-round pick’s fifth-year option was rapidly approaching, but the Dolphins opted to move on instead. Harris joins a Falcons defense looking to bolster its pass rush, but one that also waved off exercising the fifth-year option on its own former first-round pick in Takkarist McKinley, making it a rough go as of late for pass rushers taken in that round, that year — although McKinley has had much more success at the NFL level than Charlton and Harris combined.

Harris and McKinley are slated to now be teammates in Atlanta for at least the 2020 campaign, assuming the Falcons don’t eventually ship the latter away down the road via trade. The former is set to earn $1.943 million in base salary this coming season, barring any changes to his roster spot or contract with the Falcons.

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Bengals release Andy Dalton after drafting Joe Burrow

The Cincinnati Bengals reportedly released quarterback Andy Dalton on Thursday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cincy drafted LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft last week.

Dalton threw for 3,494 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2019. As the season wore on, the writing was on the wall regarding his future in Cincinnati.

The Bengals benched Dalton for their Week 10 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, which proved to be a 49-13 loss. They were 0-8 by that point, so it made sense to give Ryan Finley, the team’s fourth-round pick last year, a few starts to see if he might be Dalton’s long-term successor under center.

Following three consecutive defeats, Cincinnati turned back to Dalton for the rest of the year.

The 32-year-old spoke of how his demotion made him approach the game a little differently.

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“It feels good,” he told reporters in November. “Just as a player who has started basically every chance I’ve been able to without being hurt, it gives you a different perspective being on the other side. I’m glad to be back out playing. I feel I can help us win, so I’m excited to be going these last five games.”

The Bengals’ 33-23 victory versus Cleveland Browns in Week 17 had an air of finality. Fans cheered Dalton off the field as he walked back to the locker room, and he said after the home match he knew it might have been his last game with the team.

Cincinnati is in need of a reboot after going 2-14 in 2019. The team’s selection of Burrow was forecast for months beforehand, and now the path is clear for him to take over the starting job as a rookie.

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Saints re- sign QB Taysom Hill to deal through 2021

While the New Orleans Saints are closing in on a deal with quarterback Jameis Winston, they doubled down on their investment in current backup Taysom Hill.

The Saints and Hill agreed to a two-year deal, which will take the place of the one-year, $4.641 million tender they had already offered him as a restricted free agent.

The deal is worth $21 million, including $16 million fully guaranteed at signing, plus $1 million more in performance incentives, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

“I’ve felt a lot of love from the organization and the fan base. … My wife and I always wanted to stay in New Orleans, so this worked out perfect,” Hill said on a conference call Sunday.

Hill said the idea of a two-year deal “made the most sense for everybody” because it gives him an opportunity to become Drew Brees’ successor if Brees retires in the next year or two — but also gives him freedom if that doesn’t happen.

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Hill posted a message on Instagram on Sunday, stating, “I’ve had this dream since I was a little kid of playing in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints made that dream a reality. … Thank you NOLA.”

Hill, 29, did not sign an offer sheet with any other NFL teams before last week’s deadline for restricted free agents, which gave the Saints exclusive negotiating rights. Depending on how they structure the new deal, they could create some extra salary-cap space to help make room for Winston.

Regardless of Winston’s pending arrival, Saints coach Sean Payton has made it clear he considers the versatile Hill could potentially succeed Brees as New Orleans’ starting quarterback.

Hill got a late start to his NFL career because he went on a two-year church mission to Australia after high school, then spent five years at BYU, where he suffered a total of four season-ending injuries. But he was impressive enough as a dual-threat QB at BYU to finish his career with 6,929 passing yards, 43 TD passes, 2,815 rushing yards and 32 rushing TDs.

He started his NFL career as an undrafted rookie with the Green Bay Packers in 2017 before the Saints claimed him off waivers on cut-down day.

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Joe Burrow ready to compete to be Bengals’ starting QB

The Cincinnati Bengals have their next franchise quarterback. And the duty ahead of him could not be any clearer.

Months of speculation concluded Thursday night when the Bengals selected former LSU standout Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in the NFL draft. With this year’s event taking place virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, Burrow celebrated with his family and put on a Bengals hat from his home in Athens County, Ohio.

Shortly after Cincinnati officially added Burrow, Bengals coach Zac Taylor stated the QB will be expected to compete for the team’s starting job. Cincinnati’s new quarterback also had the same understanding.

“That’s exactly how I expect to do it as well,” Burrow stated during a teleconference with local reporters. “I’m going to come in and compete and try to be the best player I can be.”

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Burrow is coming off a historic season at LSU during which he threw for an FBS-record 60 touchdowns as he led the Tigers to a national championship.

He also completed 76.3% of his passes and won the Heisman Trophy.

He inherits a team with an unsure future at the starting quarterback spot. Veteran Andy Dalton, who has been the team’s primary starter since he was drafted in 2011, is entering the final year of his contract. Dalton’s $17.7 million salary will put the Bengals over the cap limit.

Taylor didn’t want to go as far as naming Burrow as the team’s Week 1 starter. Taylor said one of the biggest challenges for Burrow and the rest of the incoming rookie class is adapting to the speed in the NFL, even for players such as Burrow who played at college football’s highest level.

Burrow is the 318th No. 1 overall pick in NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, WNBA and MLS history. But he’s the first to win national player of the year and a national title, and break a single-season NCAA record in his final college season.

Burrow stated he isn’t worried about being burdened by the pressure of leading the Bengals back to playoff success.

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Patriots sign receiver Marqise Lee to one year deal

The New England Patriots are signing former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee to a one-year contract, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday.

Lee became a free agent on April 20, when he was released by the Jaguars.

Lee, 28, has battled injuries throughout his career and never became the game-changing player the Jaguars hoped he would be when he was drafted in the second round in 2014.

He played in only six matches and had three catches for 18 yards after signing a four-year contract worth $34 million with $16.5 million guaranteed in March 2018. He missed the 2018 campaign after suffering a torn ACL, MCL and PCL in his left knee during the preseason.

The signing of Lee is consistent with an approach the Patriots have taken under Bill Belichick, identifying a once highly-touted player whose value on the open market wasn’t what it previously was due to injuries or other factors.

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Lee joins a Patriots wide receiver corps headlined by Julian Edelman, 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry and veteran Mohamed Sanu.

Speedster Damiere Byrd, who played last season for the Arizona Cardinals, agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $2.3 million to join the Patriots early in free agency, and 2019 undrafted free agents Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski also return this year.

The Jaguars drafted Lee with the 39th overall pick in 2014, and he struggled with injuries early in his career, missing nine games in 2014 and ’15. He played every match in 2016 and missed only two matches in 2017. He re-signed with the Jaguars in March 2018 after the team was unable to reach a deal with Allen Robinson, whom they also drafted in the second round in 2014.

Lee has 174 catches for 2,184 yards and eight touchdowns in 59 career games.

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Patriots trade Rob Gronkowski to buccaneers for fourth round pick

The New England Patriots agreed to trade tight end Rob Gronkowski and a seventh-round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick, the Buccaneers reported. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the news.

Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer stated that Gronkowski passed his physical with the team.

“Rob has agreed to play for Tampa this season,” Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. “He will honor his current contract at this time.”

Reports suggest that Gronkowski, who has one year left on his contract that will pay him $10 million this year, has been getting his body ready for a return to football, and that reuniting with Tom Brady was important.

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Gronkowski, 30, retired ahead of the 2019 campaign after eight seasons with New England. During his Patriots career, he was a three-time Super Bowl champion, five-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro selection. He caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards and 79 scores, establishing himself in his prime as the game’s best tight end and arguably the most talented player at the position in NFL history. 

Injuries were an issue for Gronk, however, as he missed 29 matches in his career and 13 games in his last three seasons alone. After posting double-digit touchdown receptions in five of his first six seasons, he had a total of 14 touchdowns between the 2016-18 campaigns. 

And now Gronkowski will be playing football with Brady in Tampa Bay next season. It’s great news for Bucs fans and more tough news for Patriots fans, who have seen the most important player in franchise history sign with a new team this offseason and one of the most popular figures in team history come out of retirement to join him.

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Bears release TE Trey Burton

The Chicago Bears are releasing tight end Trey Burton, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

According to The Athletic’s Adam Jahns, the Bears plan to designate Burton as a post-June 1 release, which means that it will save money against the salary cap. But Burton will cost the Bears $7.5 million in dead money and free up just $1.05 million in cap space, according to Over The Cap.

In 2018, Chicago signed Burton to a four-year, $32 million contract, which included $22 million guaranteed. While Burton had a career-best season with the Bears in 2018 — 54 catches for 569 receiving yards and six touchdowns — it was ultimately his lack of availability that was his downfall.

After warning the team that he had a groin injury the night before Chicago’s wild-card playoff game versus the Eagles, Burton never recovered. In 2019, he only played in eight matches, tallying 14 catches for 84 yards, before landing on injured reserve.

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The Bears had the worst group of tight ends in the NFL last season, and it’s no wonder the position has been an area of focus for general manager Ryan Pace.

Chicago signed former Packers tight end Jimmy Graham to a two-year deal last month, and that raised a question about Burton’s future with the Bears.

The Bears now have nine tight ends under contract, and it wouldn’t be shocking for Pace to add another in the NFL Draft next week.

Burton, 28, had been the third and fourth tight end with the Eagles and a special teams standout. But he took advantage of his opportunities on offense during the 2017 season and became part of Eagles lore when he threw a touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles on a play called “Philly Special” in the Super Bowl LII victory over the Patriots.

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Broncos star Von Miller tests positive for coronavirus

Super Bowl hero Von Miller of the Denver Broncos has tested positive for the coronavirus after having come down with flu-like symptoms, the player and the team stated Thursday.

Miller, 31, a superstar linebacker, “elected to share his diagnosis publicly to emphasize that anyone can be afflicted with coronavirus,” according to a team statement.

“It’s true,” Miller told NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver. “I’ve just been here in the crib, and I started to get a little cough. You know, I have asthma, and I started getting a little cough a couple days ago. My girlfriend, she told me when I was asleep, she said, my cough, it didn’t sound normal.”

Miller stated he’s still in a good mood and not in any obvious pain.

“I’m not sure what’s going on, but I tell you what, I’m in good spirits. I’m still Von,” he told KUSA. “I’m not feeling sick or hurting or anything like that.”

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The Broncos stated he’s the first person in their organization to have tested positive for the virus.

“Von is doing well and recovering at home in self-isolation,” the team said. “He remains under the care of team doctors, who are following all coronavirus treatment procedures to ensure a safe environment for Von and our community.”

Miller is among only a handful of defensive players ever to win the Most Valuable Player award in pro football’s ultimate game, leading his Broncos to a 24-10 triumph over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, 2016.

Miller was asked April 6 how he was adjusting his offseason schedule, given the restrictions of Colorado’s stay-at-home guidelines. He gave no indication that he was ill, said he felt good about his offseason and said he had canceled his travel plans for the foreseeable future, including a trip to the Kentucky Derby.

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Rams center Brian Allen tested positive for coronavirus

The 24-year-old is the first active NFL player to publicly recognize that he tested positive for the virus.

Allen, who is preparing for his third campaign in the league, was spending his offseason at the Rams’ training facility to undergo rehabilitation treatment on a knee injury when he started to feel symptoms three weeks ago.

The Rams’ training facility was closed for two weeks and cleaned thoroughly, according to a Rams spokesperson. Players who must undergo rehabilitation returned this week.

Allen told Fox Sports that he lost his sense of smell and taste and had a sore throat, fatigue and headaches. He is expected to be cleared of the virus this week.

Rams coach Sean McVay told Fox Sports that he has spoken with Allen, adding that the offensive lineman is “feeling good, he’s healthy, and he’s on the road to recovery.”

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McVay said the team’s facility was closed as soon as Allen notified the Rams that he had tested positive for the virus in an effort to ensure no one else was potentially exposed.

The symptoms lasted for three or four days when he decided to return to his doctor last week and was re-tested.

Allen tested positive again, but because of how long he has had it, doctors say he should be in the “all clear” this Thursday. Doctors have reportedly told Allen that he will regain his sense of taste and smell in the next six or eight months. 

A fourth-round pick from Michigan State in 2018, Allen played a limited role on offense as a rookie. Last season, he took over as the starting center and started nine matches before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He has appeared in 22 games in his two seasons.

Although no active NFL players previously said they tested positive, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and one unidentified member of the Los Angeles Chargers organization tested positive, and two others on the Chargers have shown symptoms.

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Panthers make Christian McCaffrey NFL’s Highest-paid RB

Days after indicating the Carolina Panthers were “obviously” aiming to extend Christian McCaffrey with a new contract, general manager Marty Hurney has done just that. As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Panthers have signed McCaffrey to a new deal worth $16 million per season, resetting the RB market and making McCaffrey the highest-paid back in NFL history.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has echoed Schefter’s report, noting that McCaffrey’s new contract is a four-year, $64 million deal. While the total value of the extension doesn’t top that of the six-year, $90 million deal Ezekiel Elliott signed with the Dallas Cowboys ahead of the 2019 season, the $16M average annual salary ranks first in the league, just ahead of Elliott ($15M).

Lucrative RB contracts have become increasingly polarizing as the league seemingly devalues the position, what with the New York Jets apparently looking to trade Pro Bowler Le’Veon Bell less than a year into a $52.5M deal and the Los Angeles Rams this offseason cutting ties with Todd Gurley two years after providing him $45M guaranteed.

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McCaffrey, however, might be one of the few exceptions when it comes to RBs worth a big-money extension.

The Stanford product has demonstrated just as, if not more, dangerous as a pass catcher than as a traditional ball-carrier, breaking the NFL record for receptions by a RB in back-to-back campaigns. Drafted eighth overall by the Panthers in 2017, he’s had two straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons to go along with two straight 100-catch performances, totaling nearly 2,400 total yards and 19 touchdowns in 2019.

Still just 23, McCaffrey figures to be a centerpiece of new coach Matt Rhule’s rebuild.

“I’m so excited to continue my career in Carolina,” the RB told ESPN. “I want to thank Mr. (David) Tepper, Marty Hurney, and Coach Rhule for the opportunity to help lead this great franchise, and to all my teammates for their help along the way.”

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