Tagged in: NFL

Browns DE Vernon restructures contract, will get $11 million guaranteed in 2020

The Cleveland Browns have renegotiated defense end Olivier Vernon’s contract, an unnamed source told ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates.

Vernon was set to make $15.25 million, non-guaranteed, in 2020.

Now, Vernon gets $11 million guaranteed through a $7 million signing bonus, $3.75 million in base salary and a $250,000 workout bonus, according to Yates.

Vernon, 29, is also entitled for $2 million more in incentives.

There were reports earlier this offseason of the Browns’ interest in signing free agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Clowney, 27, and Griffen, 32, remain free agents as of Tuesday morning.

However, OverTheCap.com showed the Browns had $37.27 million left in cap space before renegotiating Vernon’s deal.

It means the Browns still could add either Clowney or Griffen and keep Vernon.

At the same time, the Browns likely need to let some of the salary cap space roll over to next offseason to offer Garrett a contract extension.

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Garrett, 24, is entering his fourth season in the league and is due to make $4.61 million this season.

The Browns already picked up Garrett’s fifth-year option in 2021, which is worth $15.18 million.

In the offseason, Pro Football Focus reporter Ben Linsey ranked Garrett and Vernon as the second-best edge defender duo in the NFL.

In 2019, Vernon played in 10 matches, compiling 26 tackles, four tackles for a loss, 11 quarterback hits and a career-low 3.5 sacks.

Pro Football Focus graded Vernon as the Browns’ third-highest graded pass rusher.

Vernon missed three games after injuring his knee during a Week 9 loss to the Denver Broncos.

In Week 13 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, Vernon played only 10 snaps before missing three more games.

Vernon played in the regular-season finale versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

Injuries forced Vernon to miss time during the last three seasons, playing in 11 games for the Giants in 2018 and 12 games in 2017.

However, Vernon did not miss a game during his first five seasons in the league from 2012-2016. Headed into the 2020 season, Vernon is entering the final year of his contract after the Browns acquired him in a trade with the New York Giants.

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Investors call on Nike, FedEx, PepsiCo to cut ties with Redskins over name

In order to get Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to pay attention to the ongoing calls for him to change the name of his NFL team, investors in major companies that have relationships with the franchise want to hit him in the wallet.

According to Adweek, letters signed by 87 investment firms and shareholders worth a collective $620 billion were distributed to Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo last week. Each of the three separate letters asked the companies to end their business relationships with Washington’s football franchise unless it changes its team name.

PepsiCo recently made the decision to sunset the Aunt Jemima brand, so there is some precedent for the company taking meaningful steps toward making real change.

Carla Fredericks, the director of First Peoples Worldwide and head of the University of Colorado Law School’s American Indian Law Clinic, told Adweek she was pleased to see shareholders in Fortune 500 companies like FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo realize the potential power they wield to shape change.

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“I’m very encouraged by the rising awareness of how every dollar you spend is a vote you cast on your values,” Fredericks said. “And that applies to money you have in investments as well as any brands you support. Anyone that has a simple stock portfolio with an index fund owns a share of these companies.”

Former NFL coach and current NBC broadcaster Tony Dungy also newly shared his method of encouraging Washington’s team name to be changed.

“When I’m on the air, I try to just refer to them as Washington. I think it’s appropriate,” Dungy said. “If the team doesn’t want to change, the least I can do is try not to use it. You can say, ‘This has been a historic name and we’ve used it for this team for X number of years, but in this day and age, it’s offensive to some people, so we’re going to change it.’ I don’t think that’s hard.” Snyder, Washington’s owner since 1999, said as recently as 2013 that he does not plan to ever alter the team’s name.

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NFL shortens preseason to just two weeks as league continues to plot its 2020 strategy

The NFL has taken its next step in adjusting its calendar to prepare for a return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic

The NFL has shortened its 2020 preseason to two games, a source said, part of a larger acclimatization plan for players following an unprecedented virtual offseason program during the coronavirus pandemic.

In essence, the league canceled Weeks 1 and 4 of its original preseason calendar. It had previously canceled its Aug. 8 Hall of Fame game. Most players will still report to training camp on July 28, but the first preseason matches won’t be played until Aug. 20-24. The second week of preseason games are scheduled for Aug. 27-31. Each team will play one home game and one on the road.

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Teams that travel will depart on the day before games.

The primary driver for restructuring the preseason was a consensus between the NFL and NFL Players Association that players will need more time than normal to get in football shape this summer.

No teams were able to practice on the field during the offseason, and many gyms and other conditioning settings have been closed. The NFL’s standard preseason has been four games since it was shortened from six games in 1978. It is expected to be cut further when owners activate a provision in the collective bargaining agreement to extend the regular season to 17 games, which they can do as early as 2021.

When that happens, the preseason would shrink to no more than three games for each team. Of more immediate worry, however, is the health of players during training camp in 2020.

The NFL/NFLPA committee will soon issue a set of guidelines that spells out an acclimatization program for the 23 days of training camp prior to the first preseason game.

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Dak Prescott plans to sign franchise tag by Monday

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott plans to sign his $31.4 million exclusive franchise tender by Monday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The two sides still have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. The Cowboys had placed the franchise tag on Prescott on March 18.

By signing his franchise tender, Prescott will be contractually forced to report to training camp on time, whether or not he and the Cowboys can figure out a long-term deal.

Prescott’s decision to sign the franchise tender is not an indication that a long-term agreement is close, league sources told ESPN’s Ed Werder.  The fact that Prescott will be one of the highest-paid players in the NFL — and the potential his franchise tag increases by a obligatory 20% next season to $37.7 million with a flat or lower cap in 2021 — is incentive for Dallas to secure a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline.

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This offseason, the Cowboys made a long-term offer to Prescott that would put him among the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL, ESPN’s Todd Archer previously reported.  Seattle’s Russell Wilson is the highest paid at $35 million per campaign, followed by Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger at $34 million.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones have repeatedly expressed their belief that Prescott is the team’s quarterback of the future and capable of leading the franchise back to a Super Bowl.

Prescott, who turns 27 on July 29, has said on multiple instances that he never wanted to leave the Cowboys.

Prescott completed 388 of 596 passes for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdown passes last season. Despite career highs in yardage and touchdowns, Prescott had his worst record as a starter (8-8) as the Cowboys missed the playoffs. His growth as a passer, however, was obvious as the Cowboys had two 1,000-yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

In his four seasons, Prescott ranks among the top five quarterbacks in victories (40), passing touchdowns (97), rushing TDs (21) and Total QBR (68), becoming one of the NFL’s biggest bargains. He earned $4 million in salary and signing bonus the past four seasons.

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Josh Gordon applies for reinstatement to NFL

The 29-year-old wide receiver has formally applied for reinstatement following his fifth league suspension last fall, according to multiple reports.

Gordon played five games for the Seattle Seahawks last season before the indefinite suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse and PED policy on Dec. 16. Gordon reportedly hopes to have his suspension lifted in time for training camp.

The eight-year NFL veteran has served repeated bans for violating the league’s substance abuse policy since joining the Cleveland Browns as a supplemental draft pick out of Baylor in 2012. Gordon also served a substance-abuse ban at Baylor.

It’s not clear what exactly triggered last season’s suspension that forced Gordon out of Seattle’s final two regular-season games and the playoffs. Gordon’s agent, Adam Kenner, told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that Gordon relapsed last year after his brother died.

Gordon broke out with the Cleveland Browns in 2012, but has struggled with substance abuse and mental health issues throughout his career.

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He caught 50 passes for 805 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie before being suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season. Despite the two-game ban, Gordon emerged as one of the NFL’s most dangerous weapons, tallying 89 catches for a league-leading 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in his second campaign.

Recurring problems with substance abuse and DWI have since forced Gordon to miss large chunks of his career, including the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons.

The Browns finally cut ties with Gordon in 2018 over reported “trust” issues before the New England Patriots took a chance on him. Gordon played 17 matches with the Patriots over two seasons before New England released him after he landed on injured reserve with a knee injury last season.

He then joined and played five games with the Seahawks prior to his December ban. He tallied 27 catches for 426 yards and a touchdown over 11 games with the Patriots and Seahawks in 2019. The Seattle Times reports that there is possible mutual interest in a reunion between Gordon and the Seahawks if his ban is lifted.

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Raiders Allegiant stadium in Las Vegas to host 2021 NFL Pro Bowl

The NFL is taking the 2021 Pro Bowl to Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Pro Bowl was staged at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, over the past four years. Peter O’Reilly, executive vice president of NFL events and club business development, confirmed to CNBC’s Jabari Young in January that a probable move was on the table. 

“It’s been a great four years,” O’Reilly said. “From our perspective, it’s looking at what are the other options.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy had also told reporters last August that Las Vegas and Los Angeles could be attractive candidates for the All-Star showcase. SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, is still slated for completion later this summer. The 2020 NFL draft was supposed to serve as an informal welcome for Las Vegas as the Raiders are set to embark on their first season in Sin City. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to accommodate a fully virtual draft. 

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Vegas will have to wait until 2022 to become the epicenter of the NFL’s annual draft frenzy.

Because the Pro Bowl happens well after the completion of the regular campaign, players routinely pull out of the game. Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen also explained how participating in the Pro Bowl can be a somewhat deflating distinction because it means your team didn’t make the Super Bowl.

Las Vegas isn’t as far-flung as Halawa, Hawaii, where the Pro Bowl has most commonly called home in the past. The city might be a more attractive draw than Orlando as well. Combined, the two factors could help retain some marquee stars who otherwise would’ve waffled on whether to suit up in 2021.

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49ers reward coach Kyle Shanahan with new 6 year deal

San Francisco is compensating head coach Kyle Shanahan with a new six-year contract that replaces the three years he had remaining on his deal and ties him to the 49ers through the 2025 season, league sources told ESPN.

The contract makes Shanahan one of the NFL’s five highest-paid head coaches. But what made this deal unique is that it was hardly a protracted negotiation between 49ers owner Jed York and Shanahan; the two men sat down and quickly figured out what each meant to the other, committing to their second six-year contract in just over three years.

Shanahan signed his first six-year contract with the 49ers in February 2017. This new six-year deal, completed recently, replaces that one. Shanahan has helped remake the franchise, leading it to an NFC championship last season. He is regarded as one of the best playcallers in the league and one of the top offensive minds in the game.

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Offensively, San Francisco averaged 29.9 points a game under Shanahan in 2019, which ranked second in the NFL.

On the defensive side of the ball, they were second in the league in points allowed at just 19.4 points per match.

Shanahan also has helped form one of the most progressive and diverse coaching staffs in the league. Of the 49ers’ 23 assistant coaches, 11 are coaches of color or women. Among them are assistant head coach Jon Embree, who is black, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, believed to be the league’s first Arab American coordinator when San Francisco signed him in 2017.

Shanahan spoke openly and passionately about race earlier this month, saying it is embarrassing for the NFL to have only three black head coaches and two black general managers. Shanahan, 40, is a former offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons.

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Ravens Waive LB Jake Ryan After Signing Him This Offseason

It didn’t take long for the Baltimore Ravens to cut ties with one of their offseason acquirements.

On Thursday, the Ravens revealed they’ve waived linebacker Jake Ryan just one month after signing him to a one-year, $985,000 contract.

The Ravens signed Ryan to improve their linebacker corps, but his spot on the roster was in jeopardy after the team drafted LSU’s Patrick Queen and Ohio State’s Malik Harrison. Instead of waiting until training camp, Baltimore opted to put Ryan on the waiver wire in June.

Ryan was a former 2015 fourth-round pick by the Green Bay Packers out of Michigan. He started off his NFL career as a rotational linebacker, but slowly started earning starters snap in his second and third years. In his first three seasons, Ryan recorded 213 tackles (15 for loss), eight quarterback hits, one forced fumble, and one sack.

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His stint in Green Bay reached it’s conclusion after suffering a torn ACL during training camp in 2018, forcing him to miss the entire season.

As an unrestricted free agent last year, Ryan signed on with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He didn’t make an impact with the Jags, as he started his season on the non-football injury list. Ryan played in just two games, where he didn’t post a single statistic.

Considering there are plenty of teams who need depth at linebacker, it should only be a matter of time before Ryan is picked up or signed before the start of summer drills.

In four NFL seasons, Ryan has used his size and physicality to develop into a reliable defender against the run, but he has struggled in coverage. He totaled 213 tackles (including 15 for loss), one sack, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in 45 career games (27 starts).

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Texans special teams coach Brad Seely retiring after 31 NFL seasons

Houston Texans special teams coordinator Brad Seely will be retiring from coaching after 31-campaigns of coaching the team revealed on Friday. Seely has been instrumental in turning around the Texans special teams unit since he arrived in 2018. 

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to spend over 30 years in the NFL coaching the game I love,” said Seely in a statement. “I want to thank each and every coach, player and staff member I worked with from when I entered the league in 1989 until now. I’ve been blessed to be a part of some of the best organizations in professional sports and I will forever cherish the friendships and memories I’ve made around the league.”

Seely is retiring after 31 seasons coaching in the NFL.

Seely served as a team’s special teams coordinator in every season from 1989 to 2019 and owns 41 years of overall coaching experience. He appeared in nine conference championship games, conquered three Super Bowls and coached 10 different players to 17 special teams Pro Bowl selections.

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“Brad Seely is one of the best special teams coaches in NFL history and his contributions to the game have been unparalleled,” said Texans Head Coach and General Manager Bill O’Brien. “I first met Brad when we were both assistant coaches in New England and immediately recognized his ability to connect with his players and teach them about the game in his own unique way. Brad has won at every stop in his 30-year career and his résumé of three Super Bowl victories and five conference championship appearances speaks for itself. It was an honor and privilege to coach alongside Brad and I will always consider him a friend. On behalf of the entire Texans organization, we wish him and his family the best in his retirement.”

The Texans have assistant special team coach Tracy Smith who has spent 10 of his 11 campaigns in the NFL as Seely’s assistant coaching special teams.  Seely started his NFL career coaching the Indianapolis Colts (1989-1993), New York Jets (1994), Carolina Panthers (1995-1998), New England Patriots (1999-2008), Cleveland Browns (2009-2010), San Francisco 49ers (2011-2014) and Oakland Raiders (2015-2017) before joining the Texans in 2018.

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NFL coaching staff can return to facilities beginning friday

NFL coaches will be permitted to return to team facilities beginning Friday.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport obtained a memo sent to teams from Commissioner Roger Goodell that allows coaching staffs to be among the employees eligible to return to club facilities starting Friday, June 5.

Players not seeking treatment for injuries are still barred from working at team facilities.

According to the memo, coaches may return only if the team has “received necessary permission from state and local governments to reopen its facility.” Clubs may also increase the number of employees in the facility to a total of 100, if allowed by local authorities.

Rapoport reported that the league anticipates only the San Francisco 49ers are not able to get to their facility Friday. The Niners are aware and supportive of the plan and have communicated with local authorities to obtain all necessary permissions when available, per Rapoport.

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“It is what it is,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters Thursday. “I’m not too upset about it. Yeah, you want every advantage possible, but our county is not there yet and it doesn’t bother me that much because I do understand. Plus, the players aren’t allowed in. Us coaches, we can meet like we’re doing right now on Zoom.”

The NFL closed all 32 team facilities earlier this spring as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the U.S.

Team facilities were allowed to start reopening on May 19, but coaches and players were barred from returning as many states continued with lockdown orders. Protocols put in place will continue to be followed as additional members of the teams are allowed to re-enter the building.

Friday’s return to the office for coaching staffs will be the next step in gearing up for the 2020 campaign. The Eagles announced later Thursday that their facilities are set to reopen Monday to limited employees.

The memo to teams noted that coaches and other staff, “particularly those who may be in a higher risk category or who have concerns about their own health conditions,” are expected to meet with medical staff or a personal physician about any special precautions that must be taken while at the team facility. The league office will also work with team medical staff to implement COVID-19 testing for coaching staffs and other personnel prior to players becoming eligible to return to club facilities.

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