Tagged in: pick

Las Vegas Raiders trade WR Bryan Edwards, 7th-rounder to Atlanta Falcons for fifth-round pick in 2023 NFL draft

The Las Vegas Raiders have traded wide receiver Bryan Edwards and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft to the Atlanta Falcons for their fifth-round selection next year, the teams revealed Friday.

Edwards, 23, has 45 catches for 764 yards and four touchdowns in 28 career games (15 starts) since being selected by the Raiders in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Las Vegas, under the direction of new general manager Dave Ziegler and new coach Josh McDaniels, saw Edwards as expendable after getting two-time All-Pro wideout Davante Adams in March to join Pro Bowler Hunter Renfrow.

The team also signed Mack Hollins, Demarcus Robinson and Keelan Cole in free agency as part of the overhaul of the wide receiver room.

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Cole on Thursday signed a one-year, $1.2675 million deal with Las Vegas that included a $150,000 signing bonus, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

With the departure of Edwards, the Raiders now have just two of their seven picks from the 2020 draft still on the roster:

Offensive lineman John Simpson, a fourth-round pick who started all 17 games at left guard last season, and cornerback Amik Robertson, who was taken 30 picks after Simpson and has started two of 18 career games.

First-rounders Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette were both cut. Lynn Bowden, who was taken one spot after Edwards, was traded before playing in a regular-season game, and Tanner Muse, drafted 19 picks after Bowden, spent his rookie campaign on injured reserve and was released before playing a match.

The Falcons, meanwhile, needed to add to their receiving depth after drafting Drake London with the No. 8 pick last month. Edwards could end up being No. 2 on the depth chart, as Auden Tate and Olamide Zaccheaus are their most experienced receivers.

Atlanta, in the past two years, traded Julio Jones to Tennessee, had Calvin Ridley suspended indefinitely for gambling and lost Russell Gage in free agency to Tampa Bay.

The Falcons also have one of the tallest group of pass-catchers in the NFL. Tight end Kyle Pitts is 6-foot-6, London is 6-5, running back Cordarrelle Patterson is 6-2, Tate is 6-5, and Edwards is 6-3.

In corresponding roster moves, the Falcons released cornerback Kendall Sheffield and tight end Ryan Becker

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Longtime Buffalo Bills DE Jerry Hughes signs contract with Houston Texans

The Texans have signed veteran defensive end Jerry Hughes, a source told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

It marks a homecoming for Hughes, who is from Sugar Land, Texas, and played at Stephen F. Austin High School.

Hughes is the latest in the group of veteran defensive ends general manager Nick Caserio has added to bolster the Texans’ defensive line. On Tuesday, the Texans announced they signed Hughes’ former teammate with the Buffalo Bills, defensive end Mario Addison.

Last week, Houston also added defensive end Rasheem Green. Hughes’ signing was first reported by NFL reporter Jordan Schultz.

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One of the few players who were retained by the Bills from the previous regime when Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane took over, Hughes was the longest tenured Buffalo player last season.

The 12-year veteran played in all 17 matches but registered his lowest percentage of defensive snaps played (51.8%) since the initiation of his career.

Hughes, who turns 34 in August, was selected as the 31st-overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2010 draft, but he had a slow start to his career.

After three seasons with the Colts, he was traded to the Bills for linebacker Kelvin Sheppard in 2013.

The following nine years of Hughes’ career were spent with the Bills, a team with which he found success. He had 10 sacks in each of his first two years in Buffalo and concluded with at least four in all the following seasons, outside of 2021 (two).

Last season, he led the team in pass rush win rate (20.9%). Hughes is fourth all time in Bills history with 53 sacks and has 58 total in his career. He also has seven postseason sacks.

Hughes has been a longtime leader of the team’s defense as the team has continued to invest in youth, especially on the defensive line.

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Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins suspended six games for violating PED policy

Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been suspended six matches for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, the league announced Monday.

The suspension comes four days after the Cardinals traded their first-round pick in the 2022 draft to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday for wide receiver Marquise Brown.

Hopkins will be permitted to play during the preseason and practice with the team until the beginning of the 2022 regular season.

Hopkins, a three-time first-team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection, is set to turn 30 on June 6 and is coming off an injury-riddled season that led to the lowest output of his career.

He missed three games in the middle of last season with a hamstring injury and the final four games of the regular season, plus Arizona’s wild-card loss to the Los Angeles Rams, after suffering an MCL injury in Week 14 on Monday Night Football.

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The knee was surgically repaired in December.

In February, while making interview rounds at the Super Bowl in Los Angeles, Hopkins said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that his rehab was going great and he was ahead of schedule.

Hopkins concluded with 572 yards and eight touchdowns on 42 catches a year after having 1,407 yards. Arizona went 3-4 without Hopkins during the regular season and was then blown out in the playoffs, losing 34-11 to the Rams.

Before his injuries, Hopkins was as good in 2021 as he has been in the past, or better. He had a higher catch percentage, yards per target and yards after catch per reception through Week 8. He was down slightly in yards per route, from 2.1 in his first eight seasons to 2.0 last season.

In two seasons with the Cardinals since they got him from the Houston Texans in 2020, Hopkins has 157 receptions for 1,979 yards and 14 touchdown catches.

Hopkins missed just two games in the first eight seasons of his career before missing seven last season.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet retires at age 28

In a shocking move, Buccaneers Pro Bowl left guard Ali Marpet is retiring, he revealed on Instagram.

Marpet is just 28 years old and finished off his first Pro Bowl season. He is considered arguably one of the top — if not the top — Buccaneers offensive linemen.

A source told ESPN that Marpet made the decision due to concerns for his overall health.

“After seven formidable years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I’ve come to the decision to retire from the game that has given me so much,” he wrote in his post.

“This organization and the people surrounding it have helped not only fulfill a dream, but also helped build me into the person I am today. I’ve made Tampa Bay my home and I look forward to serving this community in the coming years. To the coaches and teammates, family and friends, an Instagram post simply can’t express the profound impact you’ve had on me. I’m eternally grateful. Thank you Tampa Bay.”

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A second-round draft pick out of Hobart College in 2015, Marpet became the highest-drafted player (61st overall) in Division III history. He also became the first Division III player selected in the top 100 of the draft since 1990.

“It has been one of my greatest professional thrills to see his rapid ascension from a small college standout into one [of] the NFL’s best all around offensive linemen,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a statement.

The Bucs already face the daunting challenge of replacing future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. Filling the void left by Marpet, who missed just 12 matches in seven seasons, will be another big challenge.

Marpet was due to make $10 million in 2022.

Marpet has served on the Bucs’ social justice advisory board and last summer met with Vice President Kamala Harris during the team’s visit to the White House to discuss voting rights.

In his statement, Licht lauded Marpet for providing “the vision and passion that was crucial” to the Buccaneers’ social justice advisory board’s “launch and ongoing work.”

From 2018 to 2021, Marpet registered a 93.7% pass block win rate, which ranked ninth in the league among guards, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

He became one of just six players to post a pass block win rate of 92% or higher at guard in each of the past four campaigns, joining Quenton Nelson, Zack Martin, Joel Bitonio, Brandon Scherff and Andrew Norwell.

Marpet’s most memorable play, arguably, was pulling to the outside on Leonard Fournette’s 27-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl LV, which the Bucs won 31-9 over the Kansas City Chiefs.

In addition to Brady’s and Marpet’s departures, Jensen, also a Pro Bowler, and right guard Alex Cappa, a Pro Bowl alternate, are set to become unrestricted free agents next month.

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New England Patriots trade CB Stephon Gilmore to Carolina Panthers for draft pick

A trade for New England Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore and the return of Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey helped the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday get over their first loss of the campaign.

Both happened almost simultaneously as players made their way to the practice field.

The Gilmore trade in particular brightened the mood.

“That’s pretty dope, man,” cornerback Donte Jackson said.

Carolina general manager Scott Fitterer sent a 2023 sixth-round pick to New England for Gilmore, who had been set to be released later in the day. The 31-year-old from nearby Rock Hill, South Carolina, is expected to come off the physically unable to perform list after Week 6.

Fitterer stated he expects Gilmore, who is arranged to be in Charlotte for a physical on Thursday, to be ready for an Oct. 24 game versus the New York Giants

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McCaffrey could be available to play on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles after missing a 36-28 loss at Dallas with a hamstring injury.

Coach Matt Rhule said his star back looked good in practice Wednesday despite being limited and likely would be a game-time decision.

The Panthers got wind that Gilmore might be available on Tuesday night. That turned to reality on Wednesday morning when it was announced the Patriots planned to release the four-time Pro Bowl corner, who is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a partially torn quad.

Gilmore became available because the Patriots were unable to get the corner to agree to a restructured deal. The Panthers beat out several other teams that showed interest in trading for Gilmore.

They will be responsible for $5.8 million of Gilmore’s 2021 contract. Fitterer said Gilmore agreed to play the remainder of the season without an extension, but he’s open to one after the year.

Much depends on how Gilmore plays. Coach Matt Rhule said he can’t wait to get Gilmore on the field.

“I think anytime you can get a [former] All-Pro player for a future sixth, we’re going to do it, right?” he said. “… This was just one of those things where it was too good to pass up. He’s too good of a player and he’s from here. Football character-wise, he just adds to the core of what we are.”

The need for a cover corner stated when Carolina lost first-round pick Jaycee Horn to a broken foot in a Sept. 23 win at Houston. Fitterer traded last week for Jacksonville’s C.J. Henderson, a first-round pick in 2020.

Henderson remains somewhat of a project.

“C.J. is for the future,” Fitterer said. “Stephon is to win now.”

Fitterer also didn’t rule out that Horn could return late in the season or possibly the playoffs, if Carolina qualifies, after undergoing surgery. But he made it clear the goal is to make the playoffs.

Gilmore gives the Panthers a veteran who can have a positive impact on a young secondary until then and one who can be an asset if Carolina makes the playoffs.

He also happens to live three doors down from Fitterer in a neighborhood south of Charlotte. Fitterer called Gilmore a “quality guy” who will be a “great presence for the younger guys.”

Gilmore and Patriots coach Bill Belichick had both offered public goodbyes before the announced trade.

Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold faced Gilmore twice when he was with the New York Jets, so he’s glad he won’t have to face Gilmore when the Patriots come to town. Gilmore had two interceptions against him.

“Dang good player,” Darnold said. “I had two of my toughest games against him.”

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Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark fractures left ankle

Thursday’s game did not get off to an ideal start for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. was carted off the field due to an ankle injury suffered during the team’s first drive. He incurred the setback when he was blocking during a running play and got rolled up on as the action went his direction.

The Jaguars revealed he was ruled out for the remainder of the match.  Chark had seven catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the first three games, which were all Jacksonville losses.

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The LSU product was a Pro Bowler in 2019 with 73 catches for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns in a breakout effort after the Jaguars selected him with a second-round pick in 2018.

He was solid again in 2020 with 706 receiving yards and five touchdowns and figured to be a key piece in the team’s offense this year as rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence adjusted to the NFL.

However, look for the combination of Marvin Jones Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. to see more targets while Chark is sidelined. 

It’s unclear at this point if the injury is season ending.

If it is, it could be the last game Chark plays for the Jaguars. He was in the final year of his rookie contract.

Chark missed a month of camp and preseason after having surgery to repair a broken finger on his right hand. He said recently the plate they placed in his hand still remains and the finger does still bother him at times.

The Jaguars also lost starting right guard A.J. Cann to a knee injury in the second quarter.

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Dallas Mavericks sign free agent Frank Ntilikina, No. 8 pick in 2017 draft

The Dallas Mavericks bolstered their backcourt by signing former New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina.

The Mavericks revealed the signing of Ntilikina on Thursday. Terms of the contract weren’t disclosed.

Ntilikina played four seasons for the Knicks, who selected him with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. In that same draft, the Mavs took Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth selection, later trading the guard to the Knicks in the blockbuster deal that brought Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas.

The 23-year-old Ntilikina averaged 5.5 points, 2.7 assists and two rebounds over 211 career games (55 starts) with the Knicks. He had career-worst averages of 2.7 points and 0.6 assists over 33 games (four starts) last season, his final in New York before becoming a free agent.

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Born in Belgium, Ntilikina moved to France when he was 3 years old and started his professional basketball career in 2015 in a French pro league.

Ntilikina competed in the Summer Games in Tokyo for the French national team, which lost to the United States in the gold medal game.

The Mavericks have focused on guards this off-season, previously adding veterans Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown in free agency. Dallas also re-signed shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Mavericks made a point guard selection of their own during that draft. With Ntilikina off the board by the pick prior, Dallas selected Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 9 overall selection.

Neither Ntilikina nor Smith Jr. had successful tenures with their original NBA team. They are each looking to put together a strong training camp performance to earn a contract for the 2021-22 season.

There was speculation that Smith Jr. could receive a camp invite from the Mavericks, but instead, he received and accepted one from the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Los Angeles Rams acquire RB Sony Michel from New England Patriots

The Los Angeles Rams have acquired Sony Michel from the New England Patriots to add some much-needed depth at the running back position.

The Patriots obtained a sixth-round pick in 2022 and a fourth-rounder in 2023 in the deal.

Michel fills an immediate need for the Rams, who will play the season without rising star Cam Akers after he tore his right Achilles tendon while working out before training camp.

In Akers’ absence, Darrell Henderson Jr. has taken over as starter, but the Rams lack depth behind the third-year pro.

“We identified Sony for many reasons,” Rams general manager Les Snead said Wednesday. “Number one, being his experience, and experience meaning like a player who has carried the ball in big games and in those big games, where there have been big moments, big drives, big series.”

Second-year pro Xavier Jones, an undrafted free agent in 2020, and rookie seventh-round pick Jake Funk have competed throughout the preseason with the hope of proving they could fill the position.

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At the outset of training camp, coach Sean McVay stated the Rams would give their young backs ample opportunity to compete for the job but left open the possibility that the team could look for outside help when the season opener approached.

Asked this week whether Jones and Funk had proved through two preseason games that they could be ready for Week 1 versus the Chicago Bears on Sept. 12, McVay said the Rams were in the process of figuring that out.

“We got a little bit of time,” McVay said. “Darrell is a guy that’s been established and done some good things. But I was pleased with both those guys.”

Henderson suffered a mild thumb sprain in practice Monday but returned to practice Tuesday with a cast or brace protecting his left hand.

A fourth-year pro, Michel has rushed for 2,292 yards and 14 touchdowns in 28 starts for the Patriots, who drafted him in the first round with the 31st pick in 2018.

“What he does bring is this element of make a cut, get north and south and get north and south with some force,” Snead said. “The physics that he brings to the table — let’s call it a flavor or genre that we felt like complemented our group.”

In a 13-3 triumph over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII, Michel rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

Michel is due to earn a base salary of $1.79 million in the final year of his contract in 2021 after the Patriots previously elected not to exercise his fifth-year option for 2022. He had drawn rave reviews from Patriots running back coach Ivan Fears this preseason, with Fears saying he had “upped his total game.”

Last season, Michel missed six games when he was placed on injured reserve after Week 3 because of a quadriceps injury. In nine games he rushed for 449 yards and a touchdown on 79 carries. In a 24-3 loss to the Rams, Michel rushed for 22 yards on seven carries.

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Trevor Lawrence bounces back from early sack, turns in solid debut as Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback

Trevor Lawrence’s first NFL snap ended with a sack that nearly turned into a fumble, but the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback didn’t let that rattle him.

The 2021 No. 1 draft pick bounced back from that inauspicious start and turned in a solid but unspectacular performance in the Jaguars’ 23-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns at TIAA Bank Field on Saturday night.

Lawrence threw for 71 yards — including a 35-yarder to Marvin Jones Jr. to convert a third down — but failed to lead the first-team offense to any points in his two possessions and admittedly held on to the ball too long at times.

But he also made some good throws and left his head coach feeling pretty good about the former Clemson standout — though there’s a lot of improvement needed.

“I asked [passing game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer] how he played, and he said he did pretty good,” coach Urban Meyer said. “I thought the ball to his left right in front of us, I think it was on third down, he really anticipated a nice out cut, scrambled and delivered a nice one to Marvin Jones.

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“He certainly wasn’t awestruck. We’ve got to execute better. We’ve got to protect him better. And we’ve got to get all our wideouts healthy and just play better.”

Lawrence went 6-for-9 and, per NFL NextGen Stats, completed 3-of-4 of those passes into tight windows, which equaled the best completion percentage on tight-window throws by a Jaguars quarterback in 2020.

The offense also was much more effective under Lawrence (74 yards) than under Gardner Minshew II, who threw for 47 yards and an interception and led the offense to 46 yards in three possessions.

“I feel like the first time out there, I felt comfortable, felt poised,” Lawrence said. “Obviously, the first play’s not kind of what you want for the first play, but after that, I thought we did a good job. We communicated well up front. They did a really good job of protection. At least one of those sacks was on me, for sure, just holding the ball too long. That’s something I’ll work on. Just maneuvering in the pocket is something I’ve always got to work on.

“Other than that, I missed an easy one to Marvin, a little quick out I wish I would have hit. But other than that, I felt good out there. I think we were seeing it, all on the same page. There’s obviously things to clean up, but I thought it was a pretty good day.”

The biggest thing for Lawrence to clean up is getting rid of the ball quicker, which he did at times on quick throws to LaViska Shenault. Meyer stated he would need to look at the film to figure out why Lawrence was hesitant to get rid of the ball, but there were times when the signal-caller had to wait for receivers to get clear.

Lawrence accepted to having a bit of nerves, but he stated those went away quickly, as he felt more comfortable on his second drive than on his first.

“The first play you’re a little bit, especially first game here in the NFL, you’re a little bit nervous; but after that, you’re just playing ball,” Lawrence said. “Definitely felt that [comfort] setting in.

“I usually typically get nervous before the first game of any season anyway, so that’s pretty standard. I was excited. I was ready to get out there. It’s been a long time coming. It’s been my dream.”

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New York Jets’ Zach Wilson signs rookie deal after missing first 2 days of practice

It took longer than expected, but the New York Jets and quarterback Zach Wilson agreed to terms on his rookie contract Thursday.

The first-round pick and presumptive starter, who missed two days of practice as the two sides haggled over technicalities in the contract language, signed a four-year, $35.15 million contract — a slotted deal that is fully guaranteed.

It contains a $22.9 million signing bonus and a fifth-year team option, standard for all first-round picks.

Wilson, who took a red-eye from Los Angeles and arrived in New Jersey on Thursday morning, was the last unsigned first-round selection from the 2021 NFL draft.

The contract includes offset language and the signing bonus will be paid within 15 days, per a source, details that imply that the sides have compromised because those were the sticking points. Originally, the Jets wanted to defer payments into 2022.

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Coach Robert Saleh, speaking to reporters shortly before news of the deal broke, said he talked to Wilson early in the week.

The conversation was strictly about football, not contract-related, Saleh said. He said he wasn’t worried about the stalemate being a disruption to the team.

“It’s more concern for the kid,” Saleh said. “Every rep is important, so my concern is that it’s two days too many for him. But as far as the installs go and the way we’re preparing the rest of the team, that doesn’t concern me.

“But this young man has a chance to do something special around here that hasn’t been done in a while and every rep matters for him.”

Wilson benefited from a heavy workload in the spring. With no veterans on the roster, he took all the first-team reps.

There was an increased sense of urgency to strike a deal because the Jets are counting on him to be their opening-day starter, although they haven’t revealed that. The only other quarterbacks on the roster are James Morgan and Mike White, neither of whom has regular-season experience. Rookie contract disputes are unusual because the deals are slotted, but teams and agents sometimes haggle over certain clauses.

The Jets include an offset in every contract that has guaranteed money, which provides financial protection if they release the player before the contract is complete. An offset lets a team to cut a player before the end of his four-year contract is completed and have the remaining money reduced by the amount of his next contract.

This isn’t an unusual stance. It’s believed that 30 of the 32 teams use offsets in contracts. The exceptions are the Los Angeles Rams and the Jacksonville Jaguars, with the latter having signed No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence to a deal with no offsets.

Without an offset, a cut player collects the guarantee from his old team plus the money he receives from his new team — aka double dipping.

What complicated the Jets’ negotiation was that at least two of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round received deals without full offsets — Lawrence and Justin Fields (No. 11 by the Chicago Bears). Fields received a partial offset.

Interestingly, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, the top pick in 2020 and represented by the same agency that negotiated Wilson’s contract, signed a contract that includes offset language.

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