Tagged in: Pro Bowl

LB Anthony Barr, Dallas Cowboys agree to one-year deal

After talks that covered a couple of months, the Dallas Cowboys reached a one-year agreement with veteran linebacker Anthony Barr on Wednesday.

The deal is for $2 million but can max out at $3 million, a source told ESPN’s Todd Archer.

With the Cowboys keeping Micah Parsons in a multifaceted role between linebacker and pass-rusher in 2022, the team wanted to add some veteran help alongside Leighton Vander Esch with no other uber-experienced linebacker on the roster.

The Cowboys have second-year linebacker Jabril Cox coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament. While he has gotten off to a good start, he has missed the past two days of work, although there does not seem to be concern over his status.

Barr, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, had a career-high three interceptions to go along with 2.5 sacks and 72 tackles last season, the latter of which was his third-highest output in his eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

The 30-year-old linebacker appeared in 11 games after undergoing a procedure on his right knee that forced him to miss the first four matches of the 2021 season.

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He reworked his contract last March to allow himself to hit free agency after the 2021 season.

After missing the final 14 games of 2020 upon tearing a pectoral muscle versus Indianapolis, Barr’s salary and bonuses were reduced from $12.9 million to $10 million with a fully guaranteed base salary of $9.4 million.

Barr has a background with Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards, who coaches the linebackers, from their time together in Minnesota.

The former UCLA standout was former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer’s first draft pick in 2014 (ninth overall). Barr, a 3-4 outside linebacker in college, transitioned to a nontraditional off-ball role in Zimmer’s 4-3 scheme, where he was used strategically on blitzes designed around his skill set. According to Pro Football Focus data, Barr was ranked as the 12th best pass-rusher at his position and 14th in coverage in 2021.

Barr wore the green dot on his helmet for the majority of his time in Minnesota and played a critical role in calling defensive plays on the field.

The last time Barr hit free agency in 2019, the linebacker verbally agreed to a deal with the New York Jets that would have paid him $15 million per season for five years, but he returned to the Vikings less than 24 hours later to sign for far less money.

He has 495 tackles, 17.5 sacks, 8 forced fumbles and 5 interceptions in eight campaigns.

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Justin Houston, Baltimore Ravens agree to one-year deal

Justin Houston and the Baltimore Ravens have reached an agreement on a one-year deal for the four-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker to return to the club, it was announced Thursday.

The Ravens tendered Houston after the draft — much as the Kansas City Chiefs did with Melvin Ingram — to try to ensure his return to Baltimore.

In his first campaign with the Ravens, Houston led the team with 17 quarterback hits but was credited with only 4.5 sacks, his fewest ever for a full season and the second consecutive season in which his sack production has decreased.

Houston, who turned 33 in January, became the 39th player in NFL history to reach 100 career sacks. His 102 sacks is tied for the fourth most in the league since he entered the NFL in 2011.

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His return helps to address the thinnest position on the Ravens defense.

There’s doubt whether starting outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, who tore an Achilles in the season finale, will be ready for the start of the regular season. Outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson died on June 21 from the combined effects of fentanyl and cocaine.

Before the Ravens brought back Houston, the other remaining experienced outside linebackers — Odafe Oweh, Steven Means and Vince Biegel — have combined for 13.5 career sacks.

Houston has made an impact in Baltimore as a leader, repeatedly staying after practice to help the Ravens’ young pass-rushers on moves. He was nicknamed “Yoda” by Oweh, a rookie first-round pick.

A 2011 third-round pick by the Chiefs, Houston has totaled 484 tackles, 165 quarterback hits, 18 forced fumbles, 17 fumble recoveries and 4 interceptions in 11 seasons for the Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts and Ravens.

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Hunter Renfrow agrees to 2-year, $32M extension with Las Vegas Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow have agreed to a multiyear extension, the team revealed Friday.

The extension is for two years and $32 million with $21 million guaranteed, a source confirmed to ESPN.

“We are thrilled to have reached an agreement with Hunter Renfrow and look forward to seeing him in Silver and Black for years to come,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said in a statement Friday.

“Hunter is one of the true leaders on this team and he exemplifies the values of the organization in how he comes to work every day. He is a tremendous teammate on and off the field and the entire Raider Nation is excited to see what the future holds for Hunter.”

Renfrow was in line for a new deal after catching 103 passes in 2021, the second-highest single-season total by a receiver in franchise history behind the 104 receptions that Hall of Famer Tim Brown had in 1997. Renfrow also caught nine touchdown passes last season.

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Over his career, Renfrow has caught 208 passes for 2,299 yards with 15 touchdowns.

He was selected to his first Pro Bowl after last campaign.

“It was cool getting to play with a lot of players that I grew up watching, and I got to see on film over these last three or four years,” Renfrow said in OTAs. “That’s a huge honor to be voted on for something like that. I’m not a very big individual guy, so I think it was cool and it was a huge honor, but that’s not my goal for this year. My goal is to have the best season we can.”

Renfrow, a fifth-round find out of Clemson by the Raiders in 2019, was set to play out the final year of his rookie contract, earning $2.54 million in base salary.

The extension is the third this offseason handed out by the Raiders to their homegrown talent, following deals to quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Maxx Crosby.

Renfrow figures to continue to work out of the slot as Davante Adams, whom the Raiders acquired in a blockbuster trade on March 18 after eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers, takes over as the No. 1 receiver in the offense.

“He’s an interesting dude because I’ve been around a lot of people that are like Hunter, but they’re never…a fourth-year [player] with the type of football acumen that he has, and his awareness and understanding [of] why he does certain things,” Adams said of Renfrow on Thursday.

“Because there’s people out there with a lot of talent, but they can’t sit there and break it down and tell you why they’re doing what they did with their footwork or the next rep, why they tweaked it a little bit because of the look that they had. So, his awareness and his football smarts, he’s definitely ahead of his time.

“Sometimes I’ll be sitting there just talking to him like in the middle of an offensive meeting and we’ll be talking about releases, and he’ll tell me what he thought and I’m like, This is fun. This is fun being able to be with somebody who’s a lot like me mentally, the way that I approach the game, the way I attack it…I’ve been learning from him; he’s learning from me.”

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Center Alex Mack announces retirement after 13 NFL seasons

After 13 NFL seasons, Mack announced his retirement via Twitter and in conjunction with the 49ers on Friday morning, bringing an end to a career that included seven Pro Bowl selections, three second-team All-Pro nods and a spot on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade team for the 2010s.

“After 13 seasons and 204 games for 3 teams, I have decided to hang up my cleats,” Mack wrote on Twitter. “I am so grateful to the game of football and everything it has given me. From the very start it helped shape who I am and taught me life lessons. I started to play football because it was fun and that never changed…

“I always tried to hold up my end of the bargain and never let anyone doubt my effort.”

Mack, 36, earned his final Pro Bowl appearance last season, his only year spent in San Francisco. He signed with the 49ers as a free agent in March of 2021 in a move that not only reunited him for the third time with coach Kyle Shanahan — the pair also worked together in Atlanta and Cleveland — but was something of a full-circle moment for Mack, who played at the University of California in nearby Berkeley.

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At the time, Mack signed a three-year contract but made it clear that he was playing on a year-to-year basis and would evaluate whether to continue at the end of each offseason. Mack stayed committed to that this offseason, leaving many wondering what he was going to do all offseason.

At the NFL owners meetings in late March, Niners general manager John Lynch expressed optimism that Mack was going to return, saying that “all signs are him coming back and being a part of us.”

Lynch’s tone changed dramatically just before the draft about a month later when he stated that he would let Mack make his own announcement when he was ready.

On Thursday, Mack and the Niners agreed to a reworked contract that dropped his base salary for 2022 from $5 million to $1.12 million and from $3.35 million to $1.165 million in 2023. The move saved the 49ers more than $4 million in cap space this season, money they quickly used to sign their nine-player draft class.

On Friday, Mack made his retirement official and the 49ers released a statement thanking Mack for his contributions.

“The center position in the NFL is the heartbeat of an offense and Alex’s intellect, consistency, love for the game and professional approach made a lasting impression over the course of his 13 NFL seasons,” Lynch and Shanahan said in a statement. “Congratulations to Alex on a highly decorated NFL career and we wish him nothing but success in his post-playing career.”

Mack was initially the 21st overall pick by Cleveland in the 2009 NFL draft. He earned three Pro Bowl nods and was a second-team All-Pro once in seven seasons with the Browns before landing three Pro Bowl berths and two second-team All-Pro spots in five years with the Falcons.

The 49ers now find themselves looking for a replacement at a position Shanahan values greatly in his offense.

Internal veteran options include Jake Brendel, who has been working with the starters during the offseason program, and Daniel Brunskill, who started at right guard last season but played some center in 2020.

San Francisco also has a trio of rookies — Nick Zakelj, Dohnovan West and Jason Poe — who could factor into the mix, though Shanahan has traditionally been reluctant to play someone inexperienced at center.

Outside of the building, veteran JC Tretter is the best center on the free-agent market, though he comes with questions about a knee issue that prevented him from practicing much of last season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Baltimore Ravens re-sign DE Calais Campbell to 2-year, $12.5M contract

Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell is coming back to the Baltimore Ravens on a two-year deal, the team revealed Saturday.

Campbell’s contract is worth $12.5 million but could be as much as $16.5 million with incentives, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Campbell, 35, decided to return for his 15th NFL season after briefly contemplating retirement, saying he still has a desire to play after watching the Los Angeles Rams celebrate their championship.

He now will get to conclude his career in Baltimore after spending the past two seasons there and will try to get that elusive Super Bowl ring.

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Over the past two days, the Ravens addressed two areas of need while bolstering their leadership on defense, bringing back middle linebacker Josh Bynes on Friday and then keeping Campbell on Saturday.

Ravens Lamar Jackson and Tony Jefferson II took to Twitter to share their reactions to Campbell’s return.

A six-time Pro Bowler, Campbell has long been known for his capacity to get to the quarterback.

But he was more of a run-stopper than a pass-rush force in his two seasons with Baltimore, where he managed 4.5 sacks, including 1.5 last season.

Durability has been a problem for Campbell with the Ravens. After his streak of 98 straight starts ended, Campbell missed six of his past 25 games with Baltimore.

He is one of four NFL defenders since 2000 to record at least 700 tackles and 85 sacks. Among all active players, his 93.5 career sacks rank 10th and his 773 career tackles are 12th. Campbell is still in search of that first Super Bowl championship after six trips to the playoffs.

He played nine seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, who selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft, and three with the Jacksonville Jaguars before being traded to the Ravens in March 2020 for a fifth-round pick.

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Pro Bowl LB Bobby Wagner reaches five-year deal with Los Angeles Rams; worth $50M

Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner will be staying in the NFC West next season despite his release by the Seattle Seahawks earlier this month.

Wagner agreed to terms on a five-year contract with the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, the team revealed Thursday.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter the deal is for $50 million and can be worth up to $65 million if Wagner reaches incentives.

It will mark a homecoming for Wagner, who was born in Los Angeles and attended high school in Ontario, California, about 35 miles east of the city.

Wagner becomes the latest big-name player to join a star-studded Rams defense that already involves defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Donald (five), Wagner (four) and Ramsey (three) have all earned at least three first-team All-Pro selections over the past five seasons. Only six defensive players in the NFL have achieved that feat over that time period, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

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The Rams had a need at one of their inside linebacker spots after they declined to tender Troy Reeder as a restricted free agent.

The Baltimore Ravens also were in the mix to sign Wagner before he decided to sign with the Rams. The Dallas Cowboys also had interest in Wagner.

Wagner publicly and privately voiced his unhappiness over how the Seahawks handled his release earlier this month. Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll expressed their regret over how they communicated those plans to Wagner.

Wagner, 31, was the last remaining member of the star-studded defenses that led Seattle to its lone world championship and a return trip to Super Bowl XLIX after the 2014 season.

Wagner, the Seahawks’ all-time tackles leader with 1,383, is coming off a 170-tackle season that earned him his eighth Pro Bowl nod in 10 seasons. He posted that personal best despite missing all but one snap of the final two matches with a knee sprain.

While Wagner didn’t make as many impact plays as in some of his best seasons, he recorded an interception, a sack, a forced fumble and five passes defended in 2021 en route to a second-team All-Pro selection.

In 2020, Wagner was one of 22 defenders named by the Pro Football Hall of Fame to the All-Decade Team for the 2010s. His Hall of Fame-worthy résumé also includes six first-team All-Pro selections, two second-team All-Pro selections and eight Pro Bowls nods, tied for second most in franchise history.

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Sam Darnold ‘in the lead’ for Carolina Panthers quarterback job, general manager Scott Fitterer says

Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer, less than a month after saying the starting quarterback job was “open,” on Friday said Sam Darnold was “in the lead for that job.”

“We want him to take it and run with it,” Fitterer said. “But we’re gonna add a lot of competition to that room. The whole emphasis is to stabilize the quarterback position to play winning football.

“That’s what we’re working towards.”

A lot has transpired to alter Fitterer’s thought process, starting with Carolina’s failure to acquire Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade with Houston.

Watson ultimately picked Cleveland over Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta. The Panthers were ruled out, according to a league source, because they wouldn’t guarantee the third and fourth years on Watson’s contract.

Watson ultimately got a new, five-year deal with the Browns in which he got $230 million fully guaranteed.

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And while Fitterer wouldn’t admit to disappointment over not getting Watson, he says the roster is better than it was a year ago and the Panthers are “two steps closer” to winning the NFC South.

That said, Fitterer didn’t rule out using the No. 6 pick of the April draft on a quarterback or adding another quarterback before the draft via trade or free agency to compete with Darnold.

The most high-profile quarterback available is Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, who demanded a trade when the Browns started pursuing Watson.

The Panthers presently are not interested in trading for Mayfield, according to a league source.

“We’re monitoring all that,” Fitterer said without addressing Mayfield specifically. “Nothing that we’re going to do immediately.”

Carolina has salary-cap room, around $28 million, to make a move on a quarterback or other players that could improve the roster. Fitterer stated the door hasn’t been closed on bringing back Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore or quarterback Cam Newton.

In terms of Newton, Fitterer said the 2015 NFL MVP would have to want to return to Carolina and understand his role for another reunion to occur.

The Panthers made Newton the top pick of the 2011 draft, released him during the 2020 offseason and brought him back on a one-year deal late last season with Darnold on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Newton was 0-5 as the starter in 2021.

Fitterer’s goal is to make the rest of the roster strong enough so that when Carolina finds the right quarterback the team can win. He says the moves made in free agency have the roster closer to that, adding that most of the deals would have been made even if the team got Watson and his new deal.

But Fitterer admitted the best way to build a roster is to drop a young quarterback into the mix and build around him because that’s most cost-efficient, with established veterans getting such big deals.

That’s how he helped Seattle build into a Super Bowl team with Russell Wilson, a third-round pick in 2012 who went on to become a nine-time Pro Bowl selection.

“That’s probably the right way to build it, draft and development,” Fitterer said. “That’d be a really good plan for us moving forward, but we’re open to all options.”

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Miami Dolphins acquire Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill for five draft picks

The Kansas City Chiefs traded six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins for five draft picks: a 2022 first-round pick (No. 29), second-round pick (No. 50) and fourth-round pick, plus fourth- and sixth-round picks in the 2023 draft on Wednesday.

The trade is pending a physical, the Dolphins stated.

The Dolphins also are giving Hill a four-year, $120 million extension, including $72.2 million guaranteed and also including $52.535 million at signing, agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN.

The deal makes Hill the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. The $72.2 million total becomes fully guaranteed at the start of the 2023 league year. The three-year total of the deal is $72.5 million.

For Hill, who was already under contract for the 2022 season, the overall total value of the deal — including the $120 million in new money — is $141.685 million.

It also includes $250,000 in Pro Bowl incentives each campaign.

Both the New York Jets and the Dolphins had trades in place for Hill, according to sources. The question became where Hill wanted to become the wide receiver with a record-breaking deal.

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The Jets’ trade offer to the Chiefs for Hill — which Kansas City would have accepted if the wide receiver had opted for New York — did not include a first-round pick but rather multiple picks that were commensurate to the Dolphins’ offer based on the draft value chart that teams use, sources told ESPN. The Chiefs would have gotten picks No. 35, 38 and 69 while the Jets would have gotten Hill and pick No. 103.

Davante Adams was the highest-paid wide receiver for a week after he signed a five-year contract with the Las Vegas Raiders that averages $28 million per season and includes $65.67 million fully guaranteed.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Hill wrote: “Today starts a new beginning. I’m very excited to be joining the Miami Dolphins and get to work, however it’s hard thinking about the memories, people and fans that made my time in Kansas City so great.”

He also thanked those who joined him in giving back to the community in Kansas City through his foundation and thanked the Chiefs “for believing in me.”

“I worked hard every day to show my appreciation for you taking a chance on me. To Coach (Andy Reid), Coach (Eric) Bieniemy and Coach (Greg) Lewis, thank you for what you have taught me not only about football but about life,” he wrote.

Lastly, he thanked his now former Chiefs teammates and the fans, ending his message by writing, “Kansas City will always hold a special place in my heart!”

The Dolphins’ odds at Caesars Sportsbook to win the Super Bowl improved from 70-1 to 40-1 with the trade. Their odds to win the AFC improved from 35-1 to 20-1 and the AFC East from +675 to +400.

It’s the second major move made this week by the Dolphins to boost their offense that will be installed by new head coach Mike McDaniel.

On Tuesday, the Dolphins agreed on a five-year deal with left tackle Terron Armstead that is worth up to $87.5 million, a source told ESPN, locking up the services of one of the top free agents of the 2022 cycle. That deal includes $43.37 million in guaranteed money, the source said.

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Seattle Seahawks agree to trade QB Russell Wilson to Denver Broncos, get three players, picks

After weeks of negotiations, in one of the biggest trades in NFL history, the Denver Broncos have agreed to send a significant package of players and draft picks to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson, sources told ESPN.

The Broncos have agreed to trade quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, two first-round picks (2022 — No. 9 overall — and 2023), two second-round picks (2022 — No. 40 overall — and 2023) and a 2022 fifth-round pick to the Seahawks for Wilson and a 2022 fourth-round pick, sources said.

The trade gives Denver the quarterback it has sought since Peyton Manning retired, and it gives Seattle a foundation on which to rebuild without the quarterback who led the Seahawks to their only Super Bowl title.

Upon Wilson’s approval to waive his no-trade clause, the Seahawks will send him to Denver, concluding his historic 10-season run in Seattle that included nine Pro Bowl selections, one Super Bowl title and more wins than any quarterback ever has posted during his first 10 seasons in the league.

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The Broncos were Wilson’s preference, if he was traded, sources told ESPN’s Brady Henderson.

Wilson also will have to pass a physical. The trade can’t be officially announced until Wednesday, March 16 at 4 p.m. ET, which is the beginning of the 2022 league year.

Denver acquiring Wilson has nothing to do with Aaron Rodgers’ decision to return to Green Bay. Denver general manager George Paton initiated trade talks with Seattle for Wilson at least two weeks ago. But in recent days, as trade talks with Seattle heated up, it became clear that Wilson was the Broncos’ Plan A.

The Broncos and Packers have not discussed a Rodgers trade this offseason.

The Seahawks quietly were listening to offers for Wilson and got calls from multiple teams. One league source estimated the total to be over a dozen teams.

Wilson sensed he was going to have to move on, and if he did, he wanted to be going to a winning program. Denver, with all its offensive talent and its tough defense, is in “win-now” mode.

Denver has been trying to find a suitable quarterback since Manning retired, just as the organization tried for years to find a suitable quarterback after John Elway retired. Enter the 33-year-old Wilson.

Wilson will join a Broncos team managed by new head coach Nathaniel Hackett. The team’s offense includes wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam and running back Javonte Williams.

The Broncos’ odds to win the Super Bowl improved from 25-1 to 12-1 Tuesday at Caesars Sportsbook. Only three teams — the Buffalo Bills (15-2), Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) and Green Bay Packers (10-1) have better odds to win the Super Bowl than the Broncos at Caesars Sportsbook.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, saw their odds to win the Super Bowl fall from 40-1 to 75-1 at Caesars. Wilson beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII and will become the first quarterback to start for a team he defeated in the Super Bowl, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

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