Tagged in: falcons

Jordan Mailata, Philadelphia Eagles reach 4-year, $64 million extension

The Philadelphia Eagles are signing left tackle Jordan Mailata to a four-year, $64 million extension, Mailata’s agents confirmed to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

The deal, which runs through the 2025 season, could be worth up to $80 million and involves $40.85 million guaranteed, agents Jeff Nalley and Graylan Crain told ESPN.

It was completed Saturday, just before the team left its facility to fly to Atlanta for its season-opener versus the Falcons. “Excited to be here for another four years, representing this team and city,” Mailata said in a video posted to Twitter by the Eagles.

“I can’t wait to keep representing my family and everything that I have in me. Give it to you guys to get this championship here. Remember, Go Birds, baby!”

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Mailata’s ascension has been nothing short of remarkable.

A former Australian rugby player, he had no prior football experience and could barely name an NFL team when he arrived at IMG Academy to train in January 2018 as part of NFL’s International Player Pathway program.

Standing at 6-foot-8 and 346 pounds, his athletic gifts were obvious, but he didn’t even know how to put on or take off a helmet at first, let alone grasp the complexities of a pro offense.

He was selected by the Eagles in the seventh round (233rd overall) of the 2018 draft.

Mailata, 24, did not play his first two seasons in the NFL, but he showed marked improvement under the tutelage of offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.

He started 10 matches last season as the Eagles’ offensive front was hit hard by injuries and proved himself well.

He entered this summer in a competition for the starting left tackle spot with former first-round pick Andre Dillard, who was held back by multiple injuries. Mailata became the clear favorite to win the job as the weeks went on.

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Atlanta Falcons quarterback AJ McCarron ‘heartbroken’ after right knee injury in preseason defeat

Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback AJ McCarron left the game in the second quarter of Saturday night’s 37-17 defeat to the Dolphins with a right knee injury at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.

While Falcons coach Arthur Smith didn’t want to speculate on the exact nature of McCarron’s injury until after the veteran has an MRI, he did not sound encouraged by the possible prognosis.

“I really feel for AJ McCarron,” Smith said. “Any time something like that happens and it’s non-contact, it’s tough when you know what these guys put into it. I feel for AJ. We’ll obviously get the MRI to confirm but he’s heartbroken.

“He had bounced back and he was out there fighting, fighting for his team and trying to get the extra yards.”

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The injury came with 10 minutes left in the first half.

McCarron handed the ball off to running back Qadree Ollison and as he came out of his typical movement following the handoff he grabbed his right knee.

McCarron tried to walk toward the sideline but couldn’t initially get there. Falcons medical staff came to examine him and he walked off to the sideline. Minutes later, McCarron walked slowly to the Atlanta locker room. He completed 3-of-6 passes for 43 yards and had one run for seven yards versus the Dolphins. The run came a play before he hurt his knee.

Smith stated he wasn’t sure whether that play had anything to do with McCarron’s injury. McCarron was replaced by undrafted rookie Feleipe Franks, who he had been battling with for the No. 2 position throughout training camp. Franks, who was initially projected to play the second half, entered the game with 10 minutes left in the first half instead.

Franks completed 4-of-9 passes for 46 yards, no touchdowns and one interception while also rushing three times for 32 yards. He was sacked four times.

“The one thing that Feleipe has shown is that he can extend plays,” Smith said. “I thought he threw the ball a little bit better tonight at times. Still got to push him where he’s had a lot of growth and will continue to grow.”

Smith said in order to develop quarterbacks, you have to play them and that was the philosophy with Franks over the first two preseason matches. Smith said unfortunately the situation Franks faced Saturday — being forced to play earlier than expected due to injury — is what his role would be as a backup quarterback sometimes.

The Falcons signed McCarron to a one-year deal for more than $1.21 million on April 30 — hours prior to the second day of the NFL draft — to be No. 2 on the depth chart. A fifth-round pick out of Alabama in 2014 by Cincinnati, McCarron has played in 17 games, starting four and completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 1,173 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.

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Atlanta Falcons trade Julio Jones to Tennessee Titans

The Atlanta Falcons agreed to star trade wide receiver Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

In exchange for Jones, the Titans will send a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round selection to the Falcons. Along with Jones, the Falcons will send a 2023 sixth-round selection to the Titans.

The deal is pending a physical, the Titans stated.

Titans players Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown have expressed on social media their interest in having Jones as a teammate. Late last month, Brown posted a TikTok video to Jones explaining why the Titans would be the perfect fit for the star receiver.

The Titans lost two of their top pass-catchers in free agency as wide receiver Corey Davis signed with the New York Jets and tight end Jonnu Smith signed with the New England Patriots.

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Jones has been the subject of trade conversation over the past two months as Atlanta tries to remedy its salary-cap situation. On FS1 on May 24, Jones said, “I’m outta there,” when asked about the Falcons in a telephone call with Shannon Sharpe on the network’s “Undisputed” show.

It is unclear whether Jones knew the phone call was being televised.

Jones, whose base salary of $15.3 million is fully guaranteed for this season, was programmed to cost the Falcons $23.05 million against the cap in 2021 and has cap hits of $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023.

By moving him after June 1, it offers the Falcons relief against the cap this season because the dead money owed to him would be split between this season and next.

The Falcons drafted Jones sixth overall in the 2011 draft, trading a massive amount with Cleveland to be able to take the Alabama standout. Atlanta, when it moved up to acquire Jones, traded its first-round pick in 2011 (No. 26 overall), its second-round pick, two fourth-round picks and its 2012 first round pick.

Jones, 32, is the Falcons’ career leader in catches (848) and yards (12,896) and is second to Roddy White in touchdown receptions (63). His 95.5 receiving yards per game is the best per-game average in NFL history, almost 10 full yards better than first-ballot Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, who is second (86.1).

Jones, though, had one of his worst seasons in 2020, limited to nine matches because of injury with 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns. While his 15.1 yards per catch was his highest since 2017 and his catch percentage of 75 percent was the best of his career, his 85.7 yards per game was his lowest since 2012, his second year in the league.

The Falcons do have options to fill in for Jones. Calvin Ridley, whose fifth-year option Atlanta picked up in May, will slide into the No. 1 role, and a combination of 2021 first-round pick Kyle Pitts, Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus and sixth-round pick Frank Darby could see bigger roles with Jones elsewhere.

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Denver Broncos’ Albert Okwuegbunam heading to IR with torn ACL

Another talented Bronco has been lost for the year.

Rookie tight Albert Okwuegbunam suffered an ACL injury versus the Falcons on Sunday and will miss the rest of the campaign, Head Coach Vic Fangio announced Monday.

“Albert did get an ACL injury and he will miss the rest of the season,” Fangio said. “The fortunate thing of it is it’s just the ACL and the ACL only. Many times when you get an ACL, it involves some other ligaments. His rehab and repair should go clean and he should be back as good as new next season.”

Okwuegbunam suffered the injury while making a 7-yard catch on a third-and-6 in the third quarter. He quickly grabbed his knee and was attended to by trainers. Okwuegbunam went back to the locker room and was ruled out of the game shortly after suffering the injury.

Okwuegbunam joins wide receiver Courtland Sutton, outside linebacker Von Miller, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and nose tackle Mike Purcell among those who have suffered season-ending injuries. The Broncos have placed a slew of other players on IR with shorter-term injuries.

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“It’s hard to pinpoint any one or two things as to why it’s happened,” Fangio said of the injuries. “Obviously you look at it thoroughly. Is it the training? The guys didn’t train here all offseason and we didn’t see them until training camp. Was that part of it? I don’t know. The shortened preseason? No preseason games? I don’t know. I think in each and every case, it’s something different. I don’t think you’re able to pinpoint one or two things right now.”

Okwuegbunam totaled 11 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown in his four matches this season.

Six of his catches went for first downs, and he played a pivotal role in the Broncos’ comeback versus the Chargers. In the fourth quarter, Okwuegbunam caught a touchdown pass and drew a pair of pass-interference calls on the team’s final drive.

Noah Fant and Nick Vannett are the Broncos’ only tight ends who stays on the active roster. Fant suffered an ankle injury on Sunday, but he returned to the game. Fangio said he was optimistic that Fant and right tackle Demar Dotson would be able to play in Week 10 versus the Raiders but that it’s “too early to tell.” Dotson (groin) did not return to the game after halftime.

Fangio said he’s hopeful that both Bryce Callahan (ankle) and A.J. Bouye (concussion) will return to practice after missing Sunday’s game.

The Broncos may also receive reinforcements from their Reserve/COVID-19 list, as Fangio believes both Shelby Harris and Graham Glasgow should return to practice on Wednesday.

“That’s the plan,” Fangio said of Glasgow. “He started training here yesterday, which is part of the protocol. They have to go through, I think it’s a three-day training acclimation period before they’re allowed to go back to the full football activities with the team. He started that yesterday, and I think we’re hopeful that Wednesday he’ll be back out there.”

Glasgow has missed the team’s last two games, while Harris was held out of the Broncos’ Week 9 loss to the Falcons.

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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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