Tagged in: Los Angeles Rams

Cleveland Browns make Denzel Ward NFL’s top-paid CB with five-year, $100.5 million extension

The Cleveland Browns are signing Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward to a five-year, $100.5 million contract extension that includes $71.25 million guaranteed, Tory Dandy of CAA Sports, who negotiated the contract, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

At age 24, Ward is now the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history. The $20.1 million average annual salary puts him ahead of Jalen Ramsey, who had been the highest-paid cornerback at $20 million per campaign on the deal he signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020.

Ramsey congratulated Ward on his new deal, tweeting: “I been waiting on somebody else to touch that 100 club & you DEFINITELY DESERVE IT @denzelward … congrats.” Ward is now under contract with the Browns for six more years, through the 2027 season. He is under contract for $13.294 million this season after the Browns exercised the fifth-year option on his contract last year.

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The Browns selected Ward fourth overall in 2018, the same draft the team selected quarterback Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall. Ward got a second contract from the Browns, but Mayfield and the franchise are headed for a separation after Cleveland traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson and signed him to a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million extension.

The Browns have spent $340.5 million in guaranteed money on all contracts this offseason, the most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

That involves extensions, not only the money given to free agents, and $301.25 million of that total was given to Watson and Ward.

Ward tweeted thanks to the Browns “for continuing to believe in the home grown kid and allowing me to represent this organization and city of Cleveland where I’m from.” He also thanked Dandy for the work he put in to finalize the deal.

Ward has been selected to two Pro Bowls in his first four seasons — his rookie year in 2018 and in 2021. He has 10 interceptions, returning two for touchdowns, and 50 passes defended in 52 games.

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Safety Jessie Bates III, with ‘a real role on our team,’ lands franchise tag from Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals placed their franchise tag on safety Jessie Bates III, the team revealed Monday.

Bates was on the verge of becoming a free agent once his rookie deal expired at the end of the league year. The franchise-tag deadline for all teams is Tuesday.

“Over the past year, we’ve tried to extend his contract here in Cincinnati,” Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said in a statement. “While that hasn’t come to pass, we want him here for 2022 to be a part of what we think should be an exciting football season and bright future for our organization.”

The franchise tag allows the Bengals to be in prime position to retain Bates’ services for the 2022 season. The franchise tender amount for safeties is $12.911 million, according to a memo obtained by ESPN on Monday.

At last week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Bengals executive Duke Tobin reiterated that the franchise’s intention was to keep him in Cincinnati.

“He’s a guy that developed and that has played well that has a real role on our team in a lot of different areas, particularly in leadership and playmaking skill,” Tobin said. “He’s a guy we want going forward.”

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The franchise tag allows Bates and the Bengals to negotiate a long-term deal until July 15 at 4 p.m. ET. If no multiyear contract is reached by then, Bates will not be eligible for a contract extension until after the season, according to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA.

Bates played a pivotal role in the Bengals reaching their first Super Bowl in 33 years.

In four postseason games, he had six pass deflections, 20 tackles and two interceptions, including one in the 23-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.

The safety, who turned 25 in February, sought a contract extension with the Bengals after a breakout 2020 campaign; however, those preseason discussions did not lead to a new deal.

He started 15 games last campaign, making 88 tackles with an interception, four passes defended and a fumble recovery.

Since joining the Bengals, the 2018 second-round pick has been one of the team’s most dependable starters. He has appeared in 63 of a potential 65 games in four NFL seasons, starting all of them.

A neck injury suffered in a Week 3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers snapped Bates’ streak of 51 consecutive starts, the fifth-longest streak in franchise history.

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Las Vegas Raiders agree to 4-year contract extensions with kicker Daniel Carlson, punter AJ Cole

Las Vegas Raiders place-kicker Daniel Carlson, who tied for the NFL lead in scoring last season with 144 points, has agreed to a four-year contract extension, his agent tweeted Wednesday.

The deal is worth $18.4 million with $10.2 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. It makes Carlson the league’s third-highest-paid kicker.

Raiders punter AJ Cole also received a four-year extension Wednesday that will make him one of the league’s top-four-paid punters, his agent told NFL Network. Cole’s new deal is worth $12.4 million, including $5.9 million guaranteed, a source told Schefter.

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Cole leads the NFL with 51.1 yards per punt. His 42.8-yard net average ranks seventh.

Carlson, 26, was initially a fifth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2018 but was cut after two games when he missed three of his first four field goal attempts. The Raiders signed him Oct. 23 of that season.

With the Raiders, Carlson has made 95 of 108 field goal attempts, including 12-of-15 from 50 yards or longer, and 120 of 126 point-after attempts. His 104 points scored this season — 27-for-30 on field goals, 23-for-25 on extra points — are tied for third in the NFL with Los Angeles Rams kicker Matt Gay, behind New England Patriots kicker Nick Folk (128) and Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (108).

Carlson’s combined 60 field goals the past two seasons are the most in the NFL, while his 92.3% conversion rate over that time frame ranks fourth in the league.

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49ers win 1st home game in more than a year, 31-10 over Rams

After a nearly two-month stretch that featured one victory and far too many disappointments, the San Francisco 49ers were running out of time to establish an identity this season.

An opening 18-play touchdown drive versus the rival Los Angeles Rams was a pretty good start.

Jimmy Garoppolo capped that long drive with the first of his two touchdown passes, Jimmie Ward returned one of his two first-quarter interceptions for another score and the 49ers beat the Rams 31-10 on Monday night for their first home win in more than a year.

“It got us into a rhythm for sure,” Garoppolo said. “That’s the way we want to do it. Just running the ball, converting on third down and then score at the end. I don’t want to say it took their soul away but it definitely did something.”

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The Niners (4-5) had lost four of five matches and were in danger of falling out of the playoff race before putting together a complete performance in their fifth straight win versus the Rams (7-3).

Garoppolo threw TD passes to George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, Samuel also ran for a score and Ward delivered the big plays defensively to give San Francisco its second home win in the past two seasons. The other also came against the Rams on Oct. 18, 2020.

It all started on the ground, where coach Kyle Shanahan had set an audacious goal of 40 carries that the Niners exceeded with 44 runs for 156 yards.

“I almost regretted it because it’s tough to do,” Shanahan said. “I’m glad I set it. We came through with it. It’s a huge team goal.”

San Francisco had its most rushes in a regular-season game in nine years. The Niners used a similar formula two years ago when they made it to the Super Bowl.

Last week, San Francisco had 11 carries for 39 yards in a 31-17 loss to Arizona.

“If you want to establish any type of dominance, especially in the trenches, I think that is necessary,” left tackle Trent Williams said. “You got to run the ball and got to make your opponents respect it.”

The Niners sealed the game when Garoppolo connected on a 40-yard TD to Samuel on fourth-and-6 early in the fourth quarter that made it 31-7.

Garoppolo finished 15 for 19 for 182 yards and the two TDs.

The Rams lost for the second straight week with Matthew Stafford once again throwing two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.

Los Angeles struggled to get into any rhythm offensively in the first game after receiver Robert Woods went down with a season-ending knee injury last week in practice.

“This was a humbling night for us as a team, and a great opportunity for us to be able to take a deep breath, step away, look at the things that we need to correct, particularly offensively over the last couple of weeks,” coach Sean McVay stated.

Odell Beckham Jr. made his Los Angeles debut after signing last week but had only two catches for 18 yards.

Recently obtained edge rusher Von Miller also played for the first time with the Rams and had three tackles but didn’t put pressure on Garoppolo. Stafford went 26 for 41 for 243 yards with one TD, two interceptions and nearly a third that K’Waun Williams trapped on his backside only to have it wiped off by a penalty.

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Odell Beckham Jr. may return punts in Los Angeles Rams debut on MNF

The Los Angeles Rams have discussed using Odell Beckham Jr. as an occasional punt returner Monday night as part of a package of plays designed for the star wide receiver, sources told ESPN.

Beckham, who joined Los Angeles on an incentive-laden deal this past Thursday, is expected to make his Rams debut Monday night versus the division-rival 49ers.

Beckham was used as a punt returner early in his career with the Giants, but he has returned only one punt since 2019 in his two-plus seasons with the Browns. Star receiver Cooper Kupp sometimes has been the Rams’ “safe” punt returner, fielding punts deep in their own territory.

Beckham could be used there, as well as in other spots, and Monday night will be the first glimpse of whether the Rams decide to deploy the idea.

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The chances of returning punts is one of the ideas the Rams have pondered since signing Beckham to a one-year, $4.5 million deal that is heavy on team-driven postseason incentives.

The Rams joined the free-agent bidding for Beckham this past Tuesday once he cleared waivers after being released by the Browns.

The Rams felt they had a strong chance to land Beckham after head coach Sean McVay had a long and direct conversation with the receiver about how he would be used in Los Angeles.

Beckham made it clear that he was looking for three things: a good coach, a good quarterback and a team that would win this season.

The Packers, Chiefs, Saints and Seahawks showed varying levels of interest, but the Rams fit all the criteria and also could offer Beckham something no other franchise could — Los Angeles as a location.

The conversation between McVay and Beckham was the first of several that the three-time Pro Bowler had with members of the Rams organization over the next two days. He also spoke with his friends Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey, with each player pitching to Beckham the merits of playing in Los Angeles.

The Rams plan to attempt to re-sign both Beckham and Miller, who is in the final year of his contract, in the offseason, sources told ESPN. Although they added Beckham and Miller to make a Super Bowl run this season, the Rams see their relationships with both players potentially lasting beyond 2021.

Los Angeles also would receive compensatory draft picks if either player leaves in free agency.

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New York Giants WR Kadarius Toney has ankle injury, apologizes for throwing punch Sunday

Add Kadarius Toney to the New York Giants’ list of injuries to monitor.

The rookie wide receiver is dealing with an ankle problem that has his status in doubt for Sunday when the Giants host the Los Angeles Rams at MetLife Stadium.

“He was at the doctor when we went through our squad meeting [Monday] but we’ll see where that comes out right there,” coach Joe Judge said. “I don’t think it’s anything significant, in regards to season-ending. We’ll see how it affects us immediately in the future for this week.”

The Giants also have to monitor starting quarterback Daniel Jones, who is in the concussion protocol. The Giants won’t know much officially on him until later in the week, according to Judge. Mike Glennon would start if Jones is unable to play.

New York did receive fairly encouraging news on running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hyperextended knee). X-rays on Barkley’s left ankle were negative, although the Giants wouldn’t put a timetable on his return. His injury was described by a source on Sunday evening as a “sprain.”

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Golladay and Barkley were undergoing further testing Monday afternoon but Judge was “hopeful they dodged a couple bullets right there.” Neither injury is anticipated to be long-term.

A source told ESPN on Monday afternoon that most of the injured Giants were probably out a “couple weeks.” In the grand scheme of a 17-game season, this was fairly encouraging news.

The Giants (1-4) did lose rookie cornerback Rodarius Williams for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.

Toney had an X-ray immediately after Sunday’s 44-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys when he had a career-best 189 yards receiving. They came back negative.

He didn’t seem to think it was anything that would affect his status for this week.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Toney said Monday when asked about his ankle and if he would practice and play this week.

The 20th-overall pick in this year’s draft also apologized Monday on Twitter for throwing a punch that got him an ejection late in the fourth quarter.

Judge stated the incident would be handled in-house and a league source told ESPN on Monday that Toney would not be suspended. He would go through the standard discipline process with the league that will likely result in a fine

Toney didn’t think this incident would be anything more than a one-off.

“Me and (Head Coach Joe) Judge talked, and you know, stuff like that. Really, it was just a one-time thing,” he said. “I’m a rookie making early mistakes. I’ve just got to learn from them and build from it.

“I felt like I needed to apologize to mainly everyone, because as far as little kids looking up to me and stuff like that, it’s not the example I want to set for them, you know what I’m saying? I feel like, everybody makes mistakes and stuff like that, but at the end of the day we always have to be accountable for our emotions and our actions also.”

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Rams return Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, but questions remain for defending No. 1 defense

With the promise of an improved offense, the Los Angeles Rams’ defense is preparing for an encore performance.

Last season, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey spurred the unit to the top of the NFL.

Both star playmakers return after a 10-6 campaign that resulted in divisional playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. So does outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, who signed a four-year, $64 million contract after a career-best campaign in which he tallied 10.5 sacks.

But gone is defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, who inherited a defense that ranked ninth in efficiency and improved it to first in his only season before departing to become the Los Angeles Chargers’ head coach. Enter defense coordinator Raheem Morris, who held the same post last season with the Atlanta Falcons for five games before being promoted to interim head coach.

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Morris takes over a defense that permitted a league-low 18.5 points in 2020.

He is expected to maintain what Staley installed, including the base 3-4 scheme, but will add some of his own wrinkles to shape a unit that can propel the Rams to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium next February.

“I don’t think it’s pressure,” Morris said at his introductory news conference when asked about taking over the league’s top-ranked defense. “I think it’s more of an opportunity.”

Last season, the Rams ranked No. 1 in passing yards permitted per game at 190.7. They ranked No. 3 versus the run, allowing only 91.3 rushing yards per game.

However, there’s room for improvement, especially at creating turnovers. The Rams forced 22 turnovers last season, which ranked 10th, and intercepted 14 passes, ranking 12th.

Entering the NFL draft last month, Rams coach Sean McVay said the Rams did not have any glaring holes that needed to be filled. Along with Donald, Ramsey and Floyd, the Rams also return cornerback Darious Williams, whose coming off a breakthrough season that included four interceptions, and defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, a former sixth-round pick who is entering his third season as a starter.

But some of their key playmakers have departed.

Four defensive starters left this offseason, including veteran defensive lineman Michael Brockers — who was traded to Detroit — outside linebacker Samson Ebukam, cornerback Troy Hill and safety John Johnson III.

The Rams used five of their nine draft picks to select defensive players: South Carolina linebacker Ernest Jones, Texas A&M defensive lineman Bobby Brown III, Central Arkansas cornerback Robert Rochell, Northwestern defensive lineman Earnest Brown IV and Concordia-St. Paul outside linebacker Chris Garrett.

“You look at each of them and there’s a vision that we have for them and how they fit, how they provide value for a football team,” said McVay, who’s entering his fifth season as coach.

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New-look Los Angeles Rams add veteran to their wide receiver corps, secure deal with DeSean Jackson

The Los Angeles Rams agreed to terms with veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson on Sunday.

Jackson fills a much-needed role as a deep-threat wide receiver on an offense that will feature quarterback Matthew Stafford next campaign.

“We’re always trying to add some juice, and we’ll see what the next month and a half entails,” Rams coach Sean McVay stated Friday when asked if the team needed to find a wideout to stretch the field for Stafford.

“Every offense probably in the NFL would love a deep threat, right?” Rams general manager Les Snead said, answering the same question. “If I added to that, it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone that catches one deep ball a game; those can be low-percentage throws. But when you definitely have skill players with juice, that can threaten the top shelf of the coverage.”

Jackson’s deal is for one year, the team stated. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Jackson has recorded the most 60-plus-yard touchdowns (24) in NFL history.

The 34-year-old, who is entering his 13th NFL season, ranks sixth all time in yards per reception (17.4).

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In Los Angeles, Jackson reunites with McVay, who served as his offensive coordinator for three seasons with the Washington Football Team from 2014 to 2016. Jackson joins a receiving corps that contains Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and second-year pro Van Jefferson. The Rams also utilize tight end Tyler Higbee in the passing game.

However, McVay’s offense has lacked a true deep-threat receiver since trading Brandin Cooks to the Houston Texans after the 2019 campaign.

“We need to be more explosive offensively, but we’ve been a really explosive offense with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Higbee being centerpieces of it; those guys are going to continue to be that,” McVay said.

“But when you talk about opportunities, you have to call plays that give you an opportunity to be explosive, and that’s where my contribution is. Anytime that you have guys that can do that, that definitely is a benefit.”

Jackson became a free agent when he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles in February.

Jackson’s return to Philadelphia was limited by injuries since he was obtained from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019, reuniting the deep-threat receiver with the team that drafted him.

The excitement of the reunion was fueled by two touchdowns of longer than 50 yards in the 2019 opener versus Washington, but Jackson wound up playing in just three games that season because of a core muscle injury.

Jackson then missed 11 games in 2020 with an injured ankle. Overall, he has 612 receptions for 10,656 yards and has scored 60 touchdowns (including four rushing and four punt returns).

He was selected by the Eagles in the second round of the 2008 draft and played six seasons in his first stint with the team, before joining Washington in 2014.

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Detroit Lions dealing Matthew Stafford to Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff

In the world of sports, a blockbuster trade can strike at any time and that’s precisely what happened when the Detroit Lions agreed to deal franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and three future NFL draft picks, as confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.

After the dust settled, the Rams sent Goff, their 2021 third-round pick, their 2022 first-round pick and their 2023 first-round pick to the Lions for Stafford. 

It didn’t take long for first-year Lions general manager Brad Holmes to make a big splash. Holmes came to Detroit from Los Angeles where he was the director of college scouting with the Rams from 2013-2020 — so it’s safe to say he an excellent idea about what the Lions will be getting in return with Goff as their new quarterback.

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This trade also brings a significant financial impact from a salary cap standpoint.

Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Rams will inherit the two years, $43 million remaining on Matthew Stafford’s contract.

The Lions will inherit four years, $106.6M remaining on Jared Goff’s contract. The Rams will carry a $22.2M dead cap hit in 2021 after trading Goff and the Lions will carry a $17.8 million dead cap hit in 2021.

Earlier this week, Rams general manager Les Snead did not provide a public vote of confidence for Goff when asked multiple times about the quarterback’s future with the Rams.

“Moving on from Jared Goff, that’s … the money we’ve invested in him, that’s not easy to overcome,” said Snead, who added later that “anything can be done” in a cap-based system.

The Lions will face the Rams next season at SoFi Stadium.

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Seattle Seahawks’ Jamal Adams says there’s ‘no question’ that he’ll play in playoff game

The biggest question facing the Seattle Seahawks this week actually isn’t a question to Jamal Adams: The All-Pro strong safety on Wednesday stated unequivocally that he’ll be on the field for Saturday’s wild-card game versus the Los Angeles Rams.

“No question in my mind. I’m playing, man,” Adams said. “Look, as long as these legs are moving, man, as long as my faith is with the man upstairs, which is very strong, I’m going to be out there.”

Adams said there was never a doubt in his mind that he would play despite the left shoulder injury he suffered in the fourth quarter Sunday that sidelined him for the end of Seattle’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Coach Pete Carroll said after the game the initial word was that Adams would be able to play this weekend, though he stopped short at the time of declaring as much. Carroll has been more noncommittal in his most recent comments, saying Adams’ availability wouldn’t be known until game day.

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Adams didn’t practice Tuesday, and he was listed as a limited participant Wednesday.

“I’m OK,” Adams said. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m not going to be limited to anything. I’m full-go. I’m full energy. I’m me. I’m going out there to continue to make plays and continue to continue help the team win. That’s what I’m about.”

Despite missing four matches with a groin injury, Adams led the Seahawks this season with 9.5 sacks, an NFL record for a defensive back. He was named to his third straight Pro Bowl.

Asked if he’ll have to wear a supportive harness on his left shoulder, Adams said he’ll be playing with “something.” He’s been playing through an injury to his right shoulder since Week 10 and has two broken fingers on his left hand.

He called it “just another challenge” to play with two injured shoulders.

“I’m a savage, bro,” Adams said. “I’m a warrior, man. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it takes. It’s not about me. It’s always going to be bigger than me. It’s about this team. It’s about my brothers. It’s about my family back home, my why. So again, I’m excited for this opportunity. It doesn’t matter what obstacle is thrown my way. I always figure it out and that’s all that matters, man. So I’m looking forward to the matchup.”

Adams briefly returned Sunday after injuring his shoulder on a blitz but concluded the game on the sideline with a dejected look on his face. Carroll said the team had to take Adams’ helmet away.

“All the stuff that I’ve been through the past year — and again, I don’t like to ever make it about me because it’s never about me — but yeah, I went through a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity due to injury,” Adams said.

“Obviously, he had to take my helmet away. And when he took my helmet away, it hurt me a little bit because I wanted to be out there and finish no matter what. “But at the end of the day, it’s about this team. It’s never going to be about me. I can’t wait to get out there. I will figure it out and that’s just who I am as a person.”

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