Tagged in: pro bowler

Julio Jones signing deal with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Veteran wide receiver Julio Jones has a new home, agreeing to a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

The seven-time Pro Bowler gives soon-to-be 45-year-old Tom Brady another weapon in Tampa, Florida, as Jones looks to rebound from a down season with the Tennessee Titans.

Jones joins a receiver group with the Bucs that contains holdovers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller and Breshad Perriman, and welcomed Russell Gage — like Jones, another former Falcon — this offseason. Godwin had offseason surgery on a torn ACL suffered late last season.

The Bucs opted not to put him on the PUP list to start training camp, but a source told ESPN that they will be careful with him before letting him practice.

Tampa Bay also brought on veteran Kyle Rudolph last week, a move to shore up its tight end spot in the wake of Rob Gronkowski’s retirement.

The Titans released Jones in March, just one season after getting him in a trade from the Falcons.

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Tennessee dealt two draft picks to acquire him last year, hoping he would provide much-needed balance to its passing attack.

However, he appeared in just 10 games because of injuries and had career lows with 31 receptions for 434 yards and just one touchdown reception. It was the second consecutive season in which Jones was limited by injury. He appeared in just nine games for the Falcons in 2020.

The Falcons drafted Jones sixth overall in 2011, sending multiple picks to the Cleveland Browns to be able to take the Alabama standout. Atlanta, when it moved up to acquire Jones, traded its first-round pick in 2011 (No. 26), its second-round pick, two fourth-round picks and its 2012 first-round pick.

Jones, 33, is the Falcons’ career leader in catches (848) and yards (12,896) and is second to Roddy White in touchdown receptions (63). His 91.9 receiving yards per game is the best per-game average in NFL history.

He also leads the NFL in receiving yards since 2014, and Evans leads the NFL in touchdown catches (75) during that span. Now, they’re both on the same team.

Also Tuesday, the Bucs waived tight end Codey McElroy with an injury designation. A source told ESPN that McElroy will undergo foot surgery this week after dealing with the injury during the offseason.

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Miami Dolphins reach deal with Melvin Ingram to bolster pass rush

The Dolphins and defensive end Melvin Ingram have agreed to a contract, adding quality depth to a pass rush that ranked as one of the NFL’s most aggressive last campaign.

Ingram agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Earlier this month, the Kansas City Chiefs had placed the unrestricted free agent tender on Ingram, meaning his signing with the Dolphins will count against the NFL’s compensatory-pick formula.

If Ingram had gone unsigned by July 22, the Chiefs would have retained exclusive negotiating rights to him at 110% of his 2021 salary, which would have been $4.4 million.

The three-time Pro Bowler visited the Dolphins before the draft in April. He joins Miami pass-rushers Emmanuel Ogbah, Jaelan Phillips and Andrew Van Ginkel on a rotation that blitzed on 38% of opponents’ dropbacks in 2021 — the second-highest rate in the league. The Dolphins’ sack rate of 7.3% was ranked seventh in the league last season.

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While the majority of the Dolphins’ major additions this offseason have come on the offensive side of the ball, Ingram represents their biggest defensive addition to date.

Miami re-signed most of its defensive free agents, including Ogbah and linebackers Elandon Roberts, Brennan Scarlett and Duke Riley. It spent fourth- and seventh-round picks on linebackers Channing Tindall and Cameron Goode, respectively.

NFL journalist Jordan Schultz was first to report Ingram’s agreement with the Dolphins.

Ingram, 33, joined the Chiefs last campaign after being dealt by the Pittsburgh Steelers shortly before the trade deadline.

After posting one sack in six matches with the Steelers, Ingram added three more in 12 games with the Chiefs.

In one of the biggest defensive plays of the season for the Chiefs, Ingram forced Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon to fumble, which was returned by linebacker Nick Bolton for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter of a 28-24 win in the regular-season finale.

Ingram was drafted by the Chargers in 2012, and in his nine seasons there, he had 49 sacks, including a career-high 10.5 in 2015 and 2017. He was selected to play in the Pro Bowl following the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons.

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Everson Griffen signs with Minnesota Vikings, says he regrets leaving to sign elsewhere in 2020

Veteran free-agent pass-rusher Everson Griffen signed with the Minnesota Vikings, the team revealed Monday.

The terms of Griffen’s contract were not disclosed.

Griffen, 33, was selected by Minnesota in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft and spent a decade with the Vikings. From 2010 to ’19, Griffen totaled 74.5 sacks, which ranks seventh in franchise history. He was named a Pro Bowler four times in Minnesota, including three consecutive seasons from 2015 to ’17.

In February 2020, Griffen opted out of his contract and became a free agent. He signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys in August 2020 and was traded to the Detroit Lions two months later. In 14 matches last season, Griffen registered six sacks, 33 tackles (seven for loss) and 14 quarterback hits.

Griffen said he was waiting for the “right fit” as a free agent and noted how difficult last year was having to move his family from Minnesota to Dallas to Detroit in the middle of a pandemic. His familiarity with the Vikings’ scheme and close relationship with players like Danielle Hunter and defensive line coach Andre Patterson drew him back to Minnesota.

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“Honestly, I wanted to be here,” Griffen said. “I really wanted to be here. I felt like this was the best fit for me throughout the whole league. I really wanted to be here and I’m excited to be back. I’m just happy that things worked out the way they did and they welcomed me back with open arms.”

As Griffen reflected on why he left Minnesota instead of taking a pay cut after opting out of his previous deal, the defensive end expressed regret with his decision.

“I left because I thought the grass was greener on the other side, to be honest, and it wasn’t,” Griffen said. “Going to Dallas, going to Detroit, the grass wasn’t greener. I didn’t get the love that I got here with the fans, with the coaches, with the players and the grass wasn’t greener. I learned I’m back home and I’m happy to be home. “

One of Minnesota’s top position questions in training camp is determining who will start opposite Hunter at defensive end. 

Stephen Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum have been the front-runners throughout the preseason, but the team left the door open for more competition at that spot when it brought in Griffen for a workout last week.

Wearing an unfamiliar No. 58, which he noted was a “little bit” weird, Griffen was at practice Monday and participated in light individual work. Coach Mike Zimmer said Monday that the Vikings plan to use Griffen as a “situational” pass-rusher. Griffen said he’ll play “wherever they want me.”

Griffen met with Vikings brass last week following his workout to confirm, “that my head was in it. That I’m in a good place.” The defensive end took a month-long hiatus during the 2018 season to focus on his health and wellbeing after the Vikings ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation and two separate incidents involving police authorities led to him being hospitalized.

Griffen opened up about his struggles last year and told NFL Network that he lived in a sober house for three months starting in Oct. 2018.

Earlier this offseason, Griffen composed a handful of insulting tweets where he called Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins “ass” and claimed that Zimmer never wanted to sign the QB. The defensive end said he planned to speak to Cousins and apologize.

“I haven’t really talked to him yet but I’m going to get around to doing that,” Griffen said. “Apologize to him, apologize to Coach Zimmer, [general manager] Rick [Spielman] about what I said. I take full ownership in that. I’ve still got to talk to Kirk and apologize to him about that.”

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Carolina Panthers, A.J. Bouye agree to contract

The Carolina Panthers on Wednesday agreed to a deal with free-agent cornerback A.J. Bouye as they attempt to improve their secondary heading into this month’s NFL draft.

Bouye, a Pro Bowler in 2017, will be suspended for the first two matches of the 2021 season as part of a six-game ban he received last year for violations of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

He will be permitted to participate in offseason and preseason practices, according to the league.

Carolina signed 10-year veteran corner Rashaan Melvin to a one-year deal earlier in free agency. Bouye, 29, was released by Denver in February after appearing in only seven games because of injuries and the suspension. He was traded to the Broncos from Jacksonville in March 2020, after being a big part of the Jaguars’ run to the AFC Championship Game in the 2017 season.

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Bouye entered the NFL in 2013 with Houston as an undrafted free agent.

He played well enough that he received a five-year, $67.5 million deal with Jacksonville in 2017.

He had six interceptions that season in 16 starts. He has only two picks since, and he had none for Denver last year. In 69 career starts, he has 14 interceptions overall.

Bouye likely will be penciled in as the starter in Carolina opposite Donte Jackson, who is in the last year of his rookie deal.

The former Central Florida standout will compete with Melvin, likely on the right side.

The addition of Bouye lessens the urgency to use the No. 8 pick of the draft on a corner. The team eliminated the need to draft a quarterback on Monday after trading with the New York Jets for Sam Darnold, but general manager Scott Fitterer stated that doesn’t totally precluded using the eighth pick on that position.

“What we wanted to do going into this draft through free agency, through this trade with Sam, was to just get rid of all the needs we have,” Fitterer said Monday.

“We wanted to get to a place where the roster was in a good spot, and we could take the best player at No. 8.”

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Le’Veon Bell Signs Reported 1-Year Chiefs Contract

Running back Le’Veon Bell signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday after being released by the New York Jets earlier in the week, the team stated.

Kansas City did not release terms of the pact, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Bell is expected to sign a one-year deal. 

Schefter noted Bell wants to win a Super Bowl and believes the reigning champs give him the best chance to do so.

The three-time Pro Bowler is in his seventh season in the league, and Kansas City marks his third team after his career started with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013. After missing the 2018 season because of a contract dispute, he signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets in March 2019.

Bell’s 19 months with the Jets were rocky at best. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported in May 2019 that head coach Adam Gase liked Bell on the field but “didn’t love the money.” 

Across 17 games with the Jets, Bell had 264 carries for 863 yards and three touchdowns, and he caught 69 passes for 500 yards and a touchdown. He got off to a slow start in 2020, as he missed three games with a hamstring injury and had only 74 yards on 19 carries in the two games he did play.

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When Bell returned in Week 5, he played only 67 percent of the offensive snaps. In 2019, he appeared for more than 80 percent of the team’s snaps in 11 games and over 90 percent five times.

In the days leading up to Bell’s Tuesday release, Gase was outspoken about the running back’s social media activity.

The Michigan State product liked multiple tweets about his lack of usage, and he had expressed his frustration throughout the campaign.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas wrote in a statement that the two sides explored the possibility of a trade, but they could not reach an agreement with another team before deciding to release him.

The Chiefs spent their first-round pick this year on running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who rumbled for 138 rushing yards in his debut. However, he has yet to top 64 yards in each of his other four games, and Kansas City lacks much reliable depth behind him.

Expect Bell to immediately slide in as a complement to Edwards-Helaire, particularly as a pass-catching option on third downs.

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Los Angeles Chargers center Mike Pouncey having season-ending surgery

Four-time Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey has been placed on injured reserve and will soon undergo hip surgery that will keep him out for the remainder of the 2020 campaign, the Los Angeles Chargers informed Thursday, a tough blow for a team that was looking forward to a healthier offensive line this season.

Pouncey, 31, also spent time on IR with a hip injury while with the Miami Dolphins in 2016. He then started every game over the next two years, including his first season with the Chargers in 2018, but missed the final 11 weeks last year after undergoing neck surgery.

The veteran, in his 10th season, has started all 114 games he has played in during his career. He is in the final year of his contract with the Chargers.

Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said Pouncey’s surgery will take place before the end of September.

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“On top of being a Pro Bowl talent, he’s the ultimate captain, teammate and competitor,” Telesco said in a statement. “Quite simply, he’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. Mike’s played a major role in establishing the culture and standard we now have in our locker room and sets a tremendous example, especially for the younger members of our team.”

Fourth-year offensive lineman Dan Feeney is expected to substitute Pouncey as the starting center, with Forrest Lamp likely filling in for Feeney at left guard.

The Chargers, the third-most injured team last season according to Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost, are already without star safety Derwin James, who recently underwent season-ending knee surgery.

Fullback Gabe Nabers was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Thursday in a corresponding move.

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Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints agree to contract extension

Alvin Kamara is going to be with the New Orleans Saints for the long haul.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the running back has agreed to terms on a new five-year, $75 million deal. His deal includes a $15 million signing bonus. 

The 25-year-old has emerged as one of football’s most dangerous weapons, with 2,408 rushing yards, 243 receptions for 2,068 yards and 37 total touchdowns in his first three campaigns. He’s also a three-time Pro Bowler and was the 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

In Kamara, Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Latavius Murray and Jared Cook, the Saints have one of the best offenses in football. Sean Payton’s group has reached the postseason in three consecutive seasons and heads into the 2020 campaign as a Super Bowl favorite.

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But Kamara’s ability to have a major impact in the running and passing games makes him so difficult for opposing defenses to defend.

That versatility also made him more valuable than a traditional between-the-tackles runner, and it’s a skill set Christian McCaffrey also cashed in on.

It’s no surprise three-down players have set the running back market in recent years, from pre-injury Todd Gurley (64 catches for 788 yards and six touchdowns in 2017) to McCaffrey.

It was only a matter of time before Kamara inked his own lucrative extension. He’s far too explosive and versatile for the Saints to risk losing.

Prior to Saturday’s deal, the Saints had less than $6 million in cap space this year and were already expected to have more than $240 million in cap costs for 2021, when the cap could drop as low as $175 million per team.

Furthermore, they are nearing the ends of contracts with fellow standouts like linebacker Demario Davis, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, offensive tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead and safety Marcus Williams.

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Rams safety Eric Weddle announces retirement after 13 season

Safety Eric Weddle’s career has ended after 13 NFL seasons. 

The six-time Pro Bowler announced his retirement Thursday.

Per The Athletic’s Rich Hammond, the Los Angeles Rams will get $4.75 million in cap space back for 2020 and a $500,000 cap credit for 2019. 

Weddle tweeted last month that he underwent his first-ever surgery at age 35. 

Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the surgery was a meniscus trim, and Weddle’s recovery was estimated to take just weeks. 

The Rams signed Weddle to a two-year contract last March. He started all 16 matches and finished second on the team with 108 combined tackles last season.  Weddle’s NFL career began in 2007 when the San Diego Chargers drafted him No. 37 overall out of Utah. He became a full-time starter in his second season and was a staple of the Chargers secondary for nine years.

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The Baltimore Ravens signed Weddle to a four-year deal after the 2015 season.

The California native started all 48 games during his three years with the team before being released in March 2019. 

In addition to the career accomplishments Weddle listed in his tweet, he also led the NFL with seven interceptions in 2011 and was named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in each of his final two seasons at Utah. 

“He’s played a lot, had a great career,” Rams coach Sean McVay said after the season. “I’m very thankful and I’ve learned a lot from him.”

A six-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro, Weddle finishes his career with 29 interceptions, including four returned for touchdowns, eight forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, 9.5 sacks and 98 pass deflections.

With the retirement of Weddle — who is also known for his signature beard and ice cream triumph celebrations — the Rams are expected to promote second-year pro Taylor Rapp to a starting role to play alongside John Johnson.

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