Tagged in: Pro Bowl

Pittsburgh Steelers shoring up defense with Melvin Ingram addition

The Steelers are signing edge rusher Melvin Ingram, his agent confirmed on social media Monday.

Ingram is signing a one-year deal, according to NFL Network.

The 32-year-old Ingram fills a major hole in the Steelers’ defense left by the free-agency departure of Bud Dupree to the Tennessee Titans.

“I met with Coach [Mike] Tomlin,” Ingram told NFL reporter Josina Anderson. “You can tell he’s very involved and a players’ coach. That’s what stood out to me. He wants to win, and that is what I am on.

“My role is my role. He just told me to come in and be me. Everyone knows how I play.” Ingram, who had interest from other NFL teams and visited the Steelers on Monday, will strive for the spot opposite T.J. Watt that is now occupied by second-year outside linebacker Alex Highsmith.

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With Dupree’s exit, the depth behind Watt and Highsmith was perilously thin.

NFL journeyman Cassius Marsh and sixth-round draft pick Quincy Roche were anticipated to be the primary backups.

Ingram, a 2012 first-round pick, had spent his nine-year career with the Chargers, racking up 49 sacks — fourth in franchise history — en route to three consecutive Pro Bowl nods from 2017 to 2019.

He played in just seven matches last season because of a nagging knee injury that landed him on injured reserve twice, and he failed to record a sack for the first time in his career.

The Chargers opted not to re-sign him after his four-year, $64 million deal expired following the 2020 campaign.

Ingram may not be as productive as he was in previous years, but he’s in a defense that will give him tons of easy openings along the defensive line, and a secondary that will force opposing quarterbacks to think twice before throwing. That alone could provide Ingram with a career resurgence, and the Steelers with the cog they need to keep that line firmly established as the NFL’s best.

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Four-time Pro Bowl receiver Demaryius Thomas retiring from NFL as a Bronco

Demaryius Thomas announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday in a typically understated fashion for the four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Quiet off the field, driven to succeed on it, Thomas — known as “D.T.” to most everyone associated with the Denver Broncos — simply sat down for a short video and opened with:

“I’m Demaryius Thomas. I finally came to a decision to hang it up … I’m going to retire and I’m going to retire a Denver Bronco … I’m done and I did well.”

Thomas, 33, will be honored by the Broncos during their home opener on Sept. 26 versus the New York Jets, the team he concluded his career with in 2019.

Thomas was the first of two first-round picks for the Broncos in the 2010 NFL draft — Tim Tebow was the other — and spent nine seasons with the Broncos and finishes his career as the team’s second-leading receiver (9,055 yards), behind only Rod Smith. He is third in franchise history in catches (655) behind Smith and Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. He played in 10 seasons overall and finished with 724 catches for 9,763 yards to go with 63 touchdowns.

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“D.T. was the complete package as a wide receiver, growing into one of the very best at his position,” Broncos president of football operations John Elway said in a statement announcing the news.

“The combination of his size, speed, strength and athleticism was unmatched. Demaryius’ remarkable consistency and production were instrumental in our offense setting historic records and our team winning a lot of games, including two AFC Championships and Super Bowl 50.”

Thomas had a foot injury — he had been injured working out before the 2010 draft — in his first two seasons in the NFL, but flourished when healthy and with the arrival of Peyton Manning in 2012. Between 2012 and 2015, Thomas had at least 90 receptions and 1,300 yards in four straight seasons, joining Hall of Famers Marvin Harrison and Jerry Rice and Rams legend Torry Holt as the only players to reach those totals over four consecutive campaigns.

In the Broncos’ record-setting season in 2013 — Manning set NFL records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) as the Broncos scored a league-record 606 points that year — Thomas finished with a career-best 14 touchdowns. The following season he concluded with a career-best 1,619 yards receiving.

Thomas routinely said Manning revealed parts of the game that enabled Thomas to elevate his play.

Manning had called Thomas one of the best receivers he had played with in his career. When Manning’s children would come to practices, Thomas was routinely the first player they would run to as the players had become close friends.

Thomas caught Manning’s 509th career touchdown pass, which gave Manning the career record at the time. A picture of Manning and Thomas posing with a handwritten sign after the game has been on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

For many among the team’s faithful, Thomas’ signature play is the catch-and-run 80-yard touchdown, on a short pass from Tebow, in the first play of overtime to give the Broncos a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC wild-card game following the 2011 season.

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Pittsburgh Steelers release guard David DeCastro, agree to terms with Trai Turner

The Pittsburgh Steelers revealed on Thursday that they released six-time Pro Bowl guard David DeCastro.

DeCastro was released with a non-football injury designation.

The Steelers later agreed to terms with former Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner on a one-year deal, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The 31-year-old DeCastro has been fighting ankle issues and is evaluating whether surgery is required, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, adding that retirement is a strong option for him.

He didn’t participate in minicamp recently. When asked a week ago regarding DeCastro, coach Mike Tomlin said, “If I thought injury circumstances or reasons why people were not participating were significant, I would share them with you.”

DeCastro was in the final year of his contract with a $14.2 million cap hit. Releasing him saves the Steelers $8.75 million in cap space. He was the Steelers’ first-round pick (24th overall) in the 2012 draft.

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“David was without a doubt one of the premier offensive linemen during his time with us,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement.

“He helped us win a lot of football games, but it was David’s consistency, reliability and professionalism that stood out more than anything else. We wish him the best moving forward in his career.”

DeCastro missed the first two matches of 2020 with lingering knee issues but appeared in 13 of Pittsburgh’s final 14 games.

With DeCastro’s release, the Steelers will have one returning starter on the offensive line: Chukwuma Okorafor, who is likely moving from last season’s spot on the right side to left tackle. Kevin Dotson also started for DeCastro a few times last season, but he’s slated to be the left guard.

The Los Angeles Chargers released Turner in March after first attempting to trade him. Turner, 28, was limited to nine games last season because of a groin injury, but he said recently he was “back at 100 percent.”

Turner had no guaranteed money left on a four-year, $45 million extension he signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2017. Turner was selected to five Pro Bowls in his first six NFL seasons. Chosen in the third round of the 2014 draft by Carolina, he has played in 93 career games with 89 starts.

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New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley ‘doing well’ in ACL rehab, unsure of status for start of season

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley says he is “doing well” in his rehab from a torn ACL, but won’t put a timetable on his return or provide any public assurance that he will be back for the beginning of the new season.

The Giants open the regular season versus the Denver Broncos on Sept. 12, some 11 months after the major surgery on Barkley’s right knee. He also had MCL and meniscus damage.

“You know me. I’m going to take it one day at a time. Just come in with my head down and ready to work,” Barkley said Wednesday after spending the second day of mandatory minicamp inside the team facility while most of his Giants teammates practiced.

“It’s going to be whenever my body tells me I’m ready or I’m able to show everyone I’m ready again. That’s when I’m going to be able to go out there and hopefully be elite, what I was before but even better.”

This is the approach Barkley and the Giants are taking. They aren’t going to set any potentially unrealistic expectations for his return, thus putting any unnecessary pressure on him to get back on the field.

The tight-lipped Barkley wouldn’t even go into detail about where he is in the rehab process, although sources have told ESPN recently that there have been no significant setbacks and that he has progressed to jump-cutting. “Looks good,” one of the sources said.

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Barkley was also positive about the progress he’s making, even if he was unwilling to publicly provide the full details.

“I just expect to come in every single day and work hard, work my butt off, listen to the coaches, listen to the trainers, listen to the doctors,” he said. “I’m going to take it one day at a time. Whenever I’m able to, I guess you can say, go out there and participate with the team again, I’ll be ready.

“I’m doing well. I’m doing pretty well. Just taking one day at a time. Just listening to the trainers from [senior vice president of medical services] Ronnie [Barnes] to [director of rehabilitation] Leigh [Weiss] to all the way down and still being in conversations with [surgeon] Dr. [Neal] ElAttrache and [head team physician] Dr. [Scott] Rodeo. Just listening to them and taking it one day at a time.”

It has become clear in recent weeks that the Giants are going to take it slowly with the Pro Bowl running back. They are looking at this situation with a long-range view that prioritizes his well-being and future over the short-term gain of being ready for training camp or the start of the campaign.

Barkley is not expected to be full-go for the start of training camp, a source told ESPN last month. They aren’t going to put him on the field in live situations until he’s 100%. It’s entirely possible that might not be until October.

Barkley seems to be on board with the plan, although he admitted it’s difficult to be patient.

So for now and likely most of this summer, he will just have to envision how he fits into the offense alongside newcomers Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph and several others.

Free-agent acquisition Devontae Booker is filling Barkley’s role in the meantime.

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Seattle Seahawks giving WR Tyler Lockett a $69.2M extension

The Seahawks are giving wide receiver Tyler Lockett a four-year, $69.2 million contract extension that incorporates $37 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday.

Lockett was entering the final season of a three-year, $31.8 million extension he signed in 2018. He has had his three best seasons since then, with 28 receiving touchdowns (fifth among NFL wide receivers) and 3,076 yards (13th).

The $17.3 million new-money average in Lockett’s extension ranks 10th among NFL wide receivers, according to Spotrac.com.

Lockett, 28, was a third-round pick by Seattle in 2015. He made the Pro Bowl and was a first-team All-Pro as a returner in his rookie season, then came back from a compound leg fracture late in the 2016 season to start every game in 2017.

He has since supplanted the retired Doug Baldwin as Seattle’s No. 1 receiver. Last season, Lockett and DK Metcalf became only the second pair of Seahawks receivers in team history to each top 1,000 yards in the same year.

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With Metcalf a year away from becoming eligible for what is expected to be a massive payday, there was no guarantee that Seattle would reinvest in Lockett with a third contract.

Lockett was set to have the third-largest cap hit of any Seahawks player in 2021 at $14.95 million. His extension lowers that number to around $7 million, a source told ESPN.

That gives Seattle some needed breathing room against the cap and is one reason for the timing of Lockett’s extension, which comes much earlier in the offseason than when the Seahawks typically do new deals for players who are under contract.

Lockett has shown a knack for improbable catches. Among players with at least 200 targets, he has the second-highest catch percentage over expectation since 2018 at plus-12%, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

That ability was on display during an overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals last campaign, when Lockett turned in the most productive game of his career with 15 catches for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

“It’s one thing to make a catch like that some time in your life, but to do it every time you get a chance, it’s pretty crazy — and particularly under pressure and the stress of the game and the situation, all that,” coach Pete Carroll said after that game.

“He’s a phenomenal, phenomenal football player.”

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A.J. Green, Arizona Cardinals agree to 1-year deal

Veteran receiver A.J. Green, one of the most prolific players in franchise history over his 10 years with the Cincinnati Bengals, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals, it was revealed Wednesday.

The deal is worth up to $8.5 million and includes $6 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Green, who will be 33 at the beginning of next season, will fill a much-needed WR2 hole for the Cardinals and will be the complementary piece to DeAndre Hopkins that the team was seeking. Both Hopkins and Green are among the top five in receiving yards leaguewide over the past 10 seasons, according to ESPN Sports & Information research.

“Time to go to work!” Hopkins tweeted Wednesday.

If Larry Fitzgerald returns for the 2021 campaign, Arizona could feature three future Hall of Fame receivers on its roster. Hopkins essentially carried Arizona’s passing game in 2020, leading the team with 1,407 receiving yards; the next-most productive receiver was Christian Kirk with 621 yards.

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Green will give third-year quarterback Kyler Murray another every-down threat, likely on the opposite side of the field from Hopkins.

Arizona ran three-wide receiver sets the most last season, accounting for 44.9% of its plays. Two-receiver sets accounted for 29.8% of the Cardinals’ plays, and they ran four-receiver sets on 20.3% of plays.

Green’s contributions with the Bengals dropped significantly over the past few seasons because of numerous injuries and apparent frustrations with his role in the offense.

He concluded last season ranked second in Bengals franchise history in career receiving yards (9,430), second in touchdowns (65) and second in total receptions (649). Green also holds the team record for consecutive 100-yard receiving games (five, 2013).

The bulk of Green’s totals, however, came during the first five years of his career. Starting with the 2016 season, the former Georgia standout battled numerous injuries. From that point onward, he missed 29 matches, including the entire 2019 season after he suffered an ankle injury in the first preseason practice.

Green played all 16 games in 2020 but had career single-season low totals of 47 catches for 523 yards and two touchdowns. He caught 43.9% of his targets, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, the lowest of any qualifying Bengals receiver last season.

He was frustrated at times last season. In Week 5 at Baltimore, Green was asked about a sideline exchange in which he appeared to indicate that if the Bengals didn’t want to use him, they should trade him. Green downplayed the interaction in subsequent interviews.

The seven-time Pro Bowl selection played the 2020 season on the one-year franchise tag worth $18.2 million after the two sides failed to reach a long-term deal during the offseason.

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Four-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati says he’s retiring after 11 seasons

Four-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati, who spent the past two years with the Seattle Seahawks, is retiring after 11 seasons in the NFL.

Iupati revealed his decision in an interview with Spokane newspaper The Spokesman-Review, saying, “My body was telling me it was time to close the door.”

The 33-year-old was a first-team All-Pro in 2012 with the San Francisco 49ers, who drafted him 17th overall out of Idaho in 2010. He made three Pro Bowls in five seasons with the 49ers and one in four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He then played on consecutive one-year deals with the Seahawks, starting 25 matches.

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A model of toughness, Iupati played through multiple injuries in the latter portion of his career, most notably dealing with a chronic neck issue that started in 2015 and ultimately convinced him his time in football was over.

Iupati missed six games in 2020 while dealing with injuries to his knee, back and neck.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll referred to Iupati’s late-season neck injury as a stinger and said it was something he had dealt with earlier in his career. According to The Spokesman-Review, “a chronic neck condition convinced him he needed to give the game up.”

“I know I’m going to miss it,” Iupati told the newspaper about playing football. “But I’m kind of excited. I’ve got four boys and I’m taking care of them every day.”

Iupati told the newspaper his goal was to play 10 NFL seasons. Spotrac.com lists him with more than $50.75 million in on-field earnings over his career. Iupati and center Ethan Pocic were Seattle’s two starting offensive linemen from 2020 who were planned to become unrestricted free agents.

Earlier this month, quarterback Russell Wilson publicly stated his desire for the Seahawks to improve their pass protection.

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Minnesota Vikings sign LB Todd Davis to fill void after Anthony Barr, Troy Dye injuries

The Minnesota Vikings signed veteran linebacker Todd Davis on Thursday after losing linebacker Anthony Barr to injury in their Week 2 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Barr, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, was placed on injured reserve earlier this week after he tore his pectoral muscle in the second quarter of the Vikings’ 28-11 loss to the Colts in Week 2.

Barr is estimated to miss the remainder of the campaign. Fourth-round rookie Troy Dye substituted Barr on Sunday before suffering an ankle injury.

The injuries to both Barr and Dye led to Ryan Connelly making his debut two weeks after being claimed by Minnesota.

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Dye was placed on injured reserve Thursday in a corresponding move.

Davis has been a tackling machine over the course of his career. In 2019, the Sacramento State product had 134 tackles for the Broncos.

It’s unlikely that Davis sees many snaps this weekend since he just signed with Minnesota. That means the pressure could be on rookie linebacker Troy Dye to fill in at strongside linebacker.

Davis was released by the Denver Broncos earlier this month after five seasons with the team. He missed most of training camp with a calf injury.

Davis, 28, started at least 14 matches for the Broncos in each of the past four seasons. He played in 82 games for Denver since the team claimed him off of waivers in November 2014.

He had become a productive player for the Broncos as he played in all 16 games on a 2015 team that went on to gain Super Bowl 50. He then had at least 97 tackles in three of the past four seasons, and he topped 100 tackles in both 2018 (114) and 2019 (134).

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New York Giants adding Devonta Freeman on 1-year deal

The New York Giants are signing former Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman after losing Saquon Barkley for the campaign.

Freeman and the Giants agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million, Freeman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

Freeman is projected to sign the contract Wednesday morning, practice with the Giants later Wednesday and could play as soon as Sunday.

“Devonta turned down more money from other teams because he likes the opportunity with the Giants best,” Rosenhaus told Schefter.

Barkley tore the ACL in his right knee in Sunday’s 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. Dion Lewis played every snap in his absence.

Freeman, 28, spent the first six years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons. He has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons (2015-16) and has averaged 4.2 yards per carry throughout his career. But Freeman had 656 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 184 carries (3.6 average) last season. The Falcons let him walk as a free agent this offseason and instead signed Todd Gurley.

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Freeman had other chances this offseason.

He turned down a deal that could have been worth $3 million with the Seattle Seahawks and recently visited with the Philadelphia Eagles.

But the Giants offer Freeman the best opportunity for touches with Barkley lost for the campaign. They have Lewis and Wayne Gallman on the active roster. Veteran Rod Smith is on the practice squad.

“Wayne and Dion are definitely guys that will factor in,” coach Joe Judge stated Monday. “We’ll work to their strengths — they are two different types of backs. Both of them have a degree of toughness. Wayne’s got that long speed, get him ranging out and get him really moving.

Dion’s got that real good short-area quickness and burst to get going. He does a great job of finding small seams and getting through the hole. They are both different guys; we’re going to have to work with what they do well to give them an opportunity to be successful.”

Now add Freeman, who visited the Giants on Tuesday, to the mix.

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Jadeveon Clowney signs with Titans

Jadeveon Clowney made clear for months he wanted to be with a team that can win a Super Bowl, and he’s finally made his choice even if he didn’t get the long-term deal in the process.

The Tennessee Titans announced Sunday they agreed to terms with the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker on a one-year contract. The Titans did not reveal the terms Sunday. But ESPN.com reported the deal could be worth up to $15 million.

The No. 1 overall pick of 2014, Clowney went into free agency looking for a mega-contract that never came calling. The pandemic shut down travel for physicals, and Clowney didn’t visit anybody once the NFL permitted free agents to meet teams in person.

Clowney spent most of his career with the Houston Texans before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks before the 2019 campaign. He hit free agency this past spring and came to an settlement with the Titans nine days before their 2020 season opener.

They play the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football in Week 1.

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Since 2016 according to Sportradar, only Aaron Donald and Chandler Jones have combined for more tackles for loss, forced fumbles and quarterback pressures than Clowney who has 60 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles and 159 total pressures.

Clowney, 27, is rejoining coach Mike Vrabel.

They worked together for three seasons in Houston when Vrabel was the defensive line coach. One of those years, Clowney reached the Pro Bowl after he had 59 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

Vrabel and the Titans reached the AFC championship game in 2019 and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. In six NFL seasons, Clowney has 236 tackles, 71 tackles for loss and 32 sacks.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection was one of the biggest stars left in the free agent market ahead of the 2020 season openers. He is coming off a core injury that required offseason surgery.

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