Tagged in: NFL

Eli Apple remains free agent after deal with Riders falls through

Eli Apple is back on the open market. Apple, who reportedly came to terms on a contract with the Raiders back on March 18, is once again a free agent after the two sides were “unable to finalize a contract,” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

Before coming to terms with Apple, the Raiders reportedly had a two-year contract offer for former Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr., but ultimately determined to instead sign Apple, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Harris, a four-time Pro Bowler, has signed a two-year contract with the Chargers. 

The 10th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Apple, a boundary cornerback, began his career with the Giants before being traded to the Saints midway through the 2018 campaign.

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Apple has logged 48 career regular season starts in 55 games.

He has 233 career tackles, three interceptions, 33 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. Last season, his only full season with the Saints, Apple tallied 53 tackles along with one forced fumble and four passes defensed in 15 games. 

Apple was set to join a Raiders team that had already signed former Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, former Rams linebacker Cory Littleton, former Cowboys defensive tackle Maliek Collins, former Cowboys safety Jeff Heath, and former Buccaneers defensive end Carl Nassib during the first two weeks of free agency. 

With Apple off the table, the Raiders may decide to look into signing Dre Kirkpatrick, a veteran cornerback who was released by the Bengals earlier this week.

In 99 regular season matches with the Bengals, Kirkpatrick received 67 starts while recording 302 tackles, 10 interceptions, two interceptions returns for touchdowns, and 65 passes defensed. His play helped the Bengals move forward to the playoffs four consecutive years from 2012-15.

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Buccaneers’ Chris Godwin gives No. 12 to Tom Brady

Chris Godwin wore No. 12 in high school, college and his first campaign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His social media accounts, and ones owned by his girlfriend, reference the No. 12.

But, Tom Brady wears No. 12. And he will again.

According to the Buccaneers’ site, Godwin offered No. 12 to his new teammate Brady, who “gratefully accepted.” Godwin will wear No. 14.

Let the Brady jersey sales start, at least whenever the Bucs unveil their new uniforms.

Brady wore No. 10 in college at Michigan, but became well known for No. 12 while winning six Super Bowls with the Patriots. His nutrition company is called TB12. It’s a big deal for him.

It’s also a big deal for Godwin. Most players do get attached to their numbers. Godwin let it be known in an interview with “Bucs Beat” on the team’s Twitter page earlier this month that he wanted the number but would defer to Brady.

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“Obviously if he doesn’t want it, if he doesn’t make a big deal about it, I’m definitely going to keep it,” Godwin said. “We’ll see how that goes. Out of respect for what he’s done, what he’s accomplished and just the career he’s built for himself, you have to lean into that respect. We’ll see how that goes.”

In the end, Godwin wants the ball, and he endeared himself to his new quarterback.

There was no word if Brady gave Godwin anything for the number change, though that’s typical when a veteran asks for a younger player to change numbers.

In the story on the Buccaneers’ site, it says Godwin told team reporter Casey Phillips “there was no transaction between him and Brady as part of the switch,” though it’s unclear if that information was from the Godwin interview weeks ago before the two players had talked about the number.

Either way, Godwin wasn’t going to battle his new quarterback over a jersey number. Brady gets No. 12 and if Godwin gets plenty of catches, everyone will be happy.

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Buccaneers bring back veteran DL Ndamukong Suh

Ndamukong Suh will sign a one-year, $8 million deal to stay with the Buccaneers. The veteran defensive lineman’s desire to remain in Tampa Bay was partly due to his desire to continue playing for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. 

The second overall pick in the 2010 draft, Suh, who turned 33 in January, tallied 41 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries, and a league-high two fumble recoveries returned for touchdowns in 2019, his first campaign with the Buccaneers. A model of durability, Suh played in all 16 games last season for the ninth time in his 10-year career. 

A five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, Suh spent his first five NFL seasons with the Lions before spending three seasons with the Dolphins, helping Miami clinch a playoff berth in 2016.

He spent one season alongside Aaron Donald in Los Angeles, helping the Rams capture the NFC title during 2018. Suh showed no signs of slowing down last season, as he played a major role in Tampa Bay boasting the league’s best run defense last season.

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Along with the signing of Suh and future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, the Buccaneers have also franchise tagged edge rusher Shaquil Barrett.

Tampa Bay has also signed pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul to a two-year deal. The team has also signed former Colts offensive tackle Joe Haeg, whose main mission in Tampa Bay will be providing sterling protection for Brady, who will turn 43 before the start of the 2020 season.

While Suh had drawn significant criticism for penalties earlier in his career, he was flagged just five times in 2019.

In 2015, Suh signed a six-year, $114 million contract, with $60 million guaranteed, with the Miami Dolphins to become the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history at that time.

In three seasons with the Dolphins, Suh recorded 15.5 sacks and forced two fumbles. He then played one season with the Rams before joining the Buccaneers.

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CB Pierre Desir joins Jets a day after Colts cut him

It didn’t take Pierre Desir long to find a new home. A day after the Colts made the somewhat shocking decision to release him, the veteran cornerback agreed to a one-year deal with the New York Jets, according to several reports.

Desir’s landing with the Jets should come as little surprise, given their need for corners and his familiarity with assistant general manager — and former Colts vice president of player personnel — Rex Hogan. In New York, Desir joins a handful of ex-Colts, including Henry Anderson, Tarell Basham, Nate Hariston, Matthias Farley, Jonotthan Harrison and the recently signed Josh Andrews.

Releasing Desir saved the Colts $6.85 million against the salary cap this campaign and leaves no dead money. The move was jarring given that it came only a year after Desir signed a three-year, $22.5 million extension to remain with the Colts. Though he suffered through a rough, injury-plagued 2019 season, he enjoyed a breakout campaign during the Colts’ playoff run in 2018.

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Desir was the Colts’ nominee for Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2019. 

A league source told IndyStar Colts Insider Joel A. Erickson that Desir was caught off guard by the Colts’ decision to release him. 

Without Desir, the Colts are both young and thin at cornerback. They have seven corners on the roster, but only Kenny Moore, Quincy Wilson, Rock Ya-Sin and Marvell Tell suited up for the Colts in a game last season. 

Desir played in 12 games, starting 11, and allowed five touchdown passes and a 95.6 passer rating, according to Pro Football Focus.

He broke into the league as a fourth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2014. He played briefly for the Chargers before landing with the Colts in 2017.

Desir has five career interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

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Todd Gurley agrees to contract with Falcons after being cut by Rams

Todd Gurley is headed back to the Peach State.

The former Georgia Bulldog has agreed to a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons, one day after he was released from the Los Angeles Rams. The full details of the contract are unknown at this time.

“WE GOT HIM,” wrote the Falcons’ twitter account on Friday, accompanied by a short slideshow.

The Falcons cut ties with their feature running back Devonta Freeman last week.

Gurley, 25, was cut on Thursday shortly after rumors surfaced that the Rams planned to cut or trade their star running back. In response, he tweeted jocularly, “Damn I got fired on my day off #QuarantineAndChill.”

A Baltimore native, Gurley rejoins former Rams teammate Dante Fowler Jr., who signed a three-year, $48 million deal with the Falcons earlier this week.

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Gurley, the 10th overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, inked a blockbuster four-year, $60 million contract extension with $45 million guaranteed in 2018, a deal that made him the highest-paid running back in the NFL at the time. His contract with the Rams carried a 2020 cap hit of $17.25 million with a dead-cap hit of $12.6 million, according to Spotrac.

The Rams will spread the dead-cap charges over two seasons and will free up $5.5 million in additional cap space as of June 2.

Gurley’s NFL career started with a 1,106 yard-season, winning him the 2015 Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He won the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award in 2017, but has failed to replicate that success due in large part to injuries.

The three-time Pro Bowler tore his ACL in his junior year at Georgia and was held out of the end of the 2018 season with knee inflammation.

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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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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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