Tagged in: receiver

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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Star receiver Deebo Samuel asks San Francisco 49ers to trade him

For the past few months, the San Francisco 49ers have repeatedly stated they’d like to keep wide receiver Deebo Samuel for a long time. On Wednesday, it became clear that Samuel and the Niners don’t quite see things the same way.

Samuel, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington that he has asked the 49ers to trade him. Samuel declined to offer specific reasons for requesting the trade but acknowledged that he has informed the team of his desire to leave.

That comes on the heels of what has become an increasingly turbulent relationship between the two sides following Samuel’s breakout 2021 season. In recent weeks, Samuel has scrubbed any mention of the 49ers from his Instagram account, unfollowed the team and removed most photos of him in the team’s uniform from the platform. When the Niners opened their offseason conditioning program on Tuesday, Samuel did not attend, and sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he was not expected to participate in any on-field work during the voluntary portion of the offseason program.

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Samuel’s trade request comes at a time when the salaries for wide receivers have skyrocketed.

The Las Vegas Raiders gave Davante Adams $28.5 million per season on an extension after trading for him, and the Miami Dolphins rewarded Tyreek Hill with a contract averaging $30 million per season one week later after acquiring him from the Kansas City Chiefs. Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs also received a lucrative contract extension recently.

Despite all of that, at every chance this offseason, San Francisco general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have stated they intend to keep Samuel with the team well into the future. At the NFL owners meetings at the end of March, both sounded optimistic that deals for Samuel and defensive end Nick Bosa would be forthcoming.

“Like I’ve long said, those guys are going to be a part of us for a long, long time,” Lynch said. “They’re fantastic players. They’re very much at the core of who we are and they’re fabulous players, fabulous people and a big part of who we are.”

Shanahan said he wasn’t involved in the negotiations but was also adamant that Samuel remains a foundational player for the franchise.

“But we need to figure it out,” Shanahan said. “Those are guys who have earned a lot, two guys that I’m hoping that they are Niners forever, or at least as long as I’m here.”

After the 49ers lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game, Samuel was asked about staying with the Niners long term on a new contract.

“That is not my call,” Samuel said then. “That’s out of my hands.”

But Samuel now seems to be taking matters into his own hands. The 49ers have been open to working out a deal with Samuel, but those talks have not gone anywhere. In the meantime, there are other wideouts who are also still in line for big-money deals.

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Buffalo Bills, WR Stefon Diggs agree to four-year, $104M extension

Josh Allen will be working with his favorite weapon for years to come, as the Buffalo Bills have reached agreement with wide receiver Stefon Diggs on a four-year, $104 million extension that involves $70 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

With two years left on his existing deal, Diggs’ contract now runs through 2027 at a total value of $124.1 million. Both the Bills and Diggs would like him to retire in Buffalo, sources said.

“There was so much work put in to get to this point but I am beyond happy to know that I will be playing the rest of my career with BILLS MAFIA. Words cannot describe how I’m feeling right now,” Diggs wrote in an Instagram post.

The agreement follows a wave of top wide receiver deals this offseason, making Diggs’ extension an inevitable conclusion for the Bills. New Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill received $72.2 million guaranteed, and Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams got $65 million guaranteed.

Allen’s contract extension signed last year ties him to the Bills through the 2028 season.

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The Bills obtained Diggs, 28, in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings in March 2020 in exchange for four draft picks, including a first-rounder. Since that trade, Diggs has put together two of the best seasons of his career, including his first two Pro Bowl appearances.

In his two years with the Bills, Diggs has caught 230 passes for 2,760 yards and 18 touchdowns. His 2020 season included career and league highs with 127 receptions, 1,535 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. In 2021, he caught a career-high 10 touchdowns during the NFL’s first 17-game season.

Since his trade to the Bills, Diggs has ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

The only players with more receptions than Diggs since the start of the 2020 season are Adams and Cooper Kupp, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Diggs’ receptions and receiving yards are the first and fourth most by any player in their first two seasons with a team in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Diggs and Brandon Marshall (with the Chicago Bears) are the only players with 200 catches and 2,500 receiving yards in their first two seasons with a team all time.

“I want to give all players their respect and a fair pay, whoever it is, and Stef’s no different,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane recently said of Diggs. “… I think the world of Stef. I think what he’s brought our team has been great. He’s been great for Josh. He’s been great for our offense, and his leadership has stepped up, and we want to see Stef in Buffalo for years to come.”

The move is likely to create more money for the Bills to operate with this offseason. The team entered the week with less than $1 million in available cap space.

Selected by the Vikings in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft, Diggs spent the first five seasons of his career in Minnesota and signed a five-year extension with the team in 2018.

His time with the Vikings did not end on the best of terms, and Diggs has been vocal about enjoying being in Buffalo and his connection on and off the field with Allen.

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Russell Wilson not being limited in Seattle Seahawks’ practice this week, and ‘looks pretty good’

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll stated quarterback Russell Wilson is not being limited in practice this week in his return from an injury to his right middle finger.

Wilson practiced on Monday for the first time since his Oct. 8 surgery.

“I’ve just seen him in the walk-through since then and you would never have known,” Carroll said before Wednesday’s practice. “So I don’t know what that means yet, but he looks pretty good.”

Carroll stated earlier in the week that the plan was for Wilson to play Sunday versus the Green Bay Packers assuming all goes well this week. The Seahawks would need to activate Wilson off injured reserve by Saturday to make him eligible.

Because he is not on the active roster, the Seahawks aren’t required to include Wilson’s level of participation on their daily practice reports. But Carroll answered in the affirmative when asked whether Wilson is a full participant. Wilson was not seen wearing a glove during the portion of Monday’s practice that was open to reporters.

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“He doesn’t have to wear anything unless he chooses to,” Carroll said. “He has been experimenting with some stuff just to see what’s out there for him.”

The Seahawks on Wednesday designated running back Chris Carson for a return to practice.

Carson has missed the past four matches with a neck injury and was placed on IR the same day as Wilson, making both players eligible to return for the Green Bay game.

“He’s got to make it through the week of work and like we always talk about, it’s a one-day-at-a-time thing,” Carroll said.

“He’ll get banged around a little bit tomorrow, but just see how he responds to it. It’s pretty important to get a good bead on this one. He’ll feel good physically running around and all that because he’s in great shape and he’s been working really hard, so it’s just how he responds — same old thing — and how his body reacts to the workload.”

Carroll said Carson has gotten through the discomfort he was dealing with in his neck.

“That’s why he’s back and hopefully it’ll stay that way,” the coach said. He said he didn’t know whether Carson would have to be on a so-called pitch count whenever he returns.

The Seahawks designated rookie receiver Dee Eskridge for a return to practice on Monday. Seattle’s second-round pick hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in the opener.

He made two trips to a concussion specialist in Florida to work through issues he was having with his vision. Eskridge practiced Monday and was feeling good enough to practice again Wednesday, per Carroll.

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Lions C Frank Ragnow has season-ending toe injury

The Detroit Lions continue to suffer a rash of injuries, with Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow now set to undergo season-ending toe surgery, a source confirmed to ESPN.

NFL Network was first to report that Ragnow met with Dr. Robert Anderson to get confirmation on the best course of action to treat the injury.

Ragnow was already on the injured reserve list for what Lions coach Dan Campbell described as a “version of turf toe.”

He suffered the injury during the first half of Detroit’s Week 4 loss at Chicago. The team also lost outside linebacker Romeo Okwara to a season-ending Achilles injury in that same match.

Ragnow earned his first Pro Bowl berth last campaign and became the NFL’s highest-paid center this offseason.

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The winless Lions have suffered a pair of heartbreaking losses on last-second field goals while being hit with an onslaught of injuries. Wide receiver Quintez Cephus (collarbone), wide receiver Tyrell Williams (concussion) and cornerbacks Ifeatu Melifonwu (thigh) and Jeff Okudah (Achilles) among others, are all on the injured reserve list.

The Lions (0-5) host the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) on Sunday.

Ragnow’s injury is one of many ailments that have taken some of the team’s top players off the active roster.

The team placed receiver Quintez Cephus on the injured list Tuesday and added receiver Javon McKinley to the practice squad to replace tight end Jared Pinkney.

Cephus, who broke his collarbone after making a catch versus the Vikings, leads the team with 13.6 yards per catch and is its only wide receiver averaging 40 yards receiving per game.

Ragnow and Cephus joined a long list of hurt players. Linebacker Romeo Okwara had a season-ending Achilles tendon injury.

Cornerback Jeff Okudah, left tackle Taylor Decker, rookie defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu and wide receiver Tyrell Williams are on injured reserve with a total of 13 players.

Decker is eligible to return and coach Dan Campbell stated the veteran will probably rejoin the starting offense at left tackle with rookie Penei Sewell shifting back to the right side.

In May, the Lions signed Ragnow to a $54 million, four-year extension that keeps him under contract for a total of $70 million through the 2026 season. He earned second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl recognition last year.

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Green Bay Packers complete deal with Houston Texans for Randall Cobb

The Green Bay Packers have formally brought back Randall Cobb, with the team announcing a trade with the Houston Texans for its longtime receiver Wednesday night.

Green Bay said they sent Houston an undisclosed draft pick in return. A source told ESPN that the Packers only had to give up a sixth-round pick and got the Texans to eat $3 million of Cobb’s salary; the cap hit on the Packers will be slightly under $3 million.

Cobb, who will turn 31 on Aug. 22, played his first eight seasons in Green Bay, where he was one of Aaron Rodgers’ go-to receivers — especially in the slot.

Earlier Wednesday, Cobb tweeted: “I’M COMING HOME!”

He left in free agency following the 2018 season and spent one year with the Dallas Cowboys. He then signed a three-year, $27 million deal with Houston, where he played 10 matches last season — one more than he did during his final season in Green Bay, where he battled lingering hamstring problems.

He suffered a toe injury in Week 11 last year and missed six games. He concluded with 38 catches, 441 yards and three touchdowns.

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Rodgers hasn’t had a true slot receiver since Cobb’s departure.

To fill that void in their offense, the Packers drafted Amari Rodgers in the third round of this year’s draft.

Apparently, Rodgers-to-Cobb had a better ring to it than Rodgers-to-Rodgers, but it’s unclear if bringing back Cobb was a condition of Rodgers’ return or merely a suggestion that the Packers decided to honor.

When Cobb left the Packers, he did so ranked sixth in franchise history with 470 catches and 11th in both receiving yards (5,524) and touchdown catches (41). His best season came in 2014, when he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. That was one of two times in his career in which he did not miss a game.

While Cobb’s role is yet to be determined and could hinge largely on his facility to stay healthy, he also could help mentor Amari Rodgers.

There’s already a connection between the two; Rodgers’ father, Tee Martin, coached Cobb in college at Kentucky. The trade no doubt will include a contract restructure for Cobb, who was scheduled to make $8.25 million this season.

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Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson resigned to possibly playing NFL season on one-year deal

Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson sounded resigned to possibly playing the 2021 NFL season on a one-year deal in advance of the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to receive long-term contracts.

“I don’t have any [contract] updates or nothing like that,” Robinson stated on a videoconference call Wednesday.

“That’s not in my control, if I don’t [get a long-term deal]. That being a possibility [of playing on the one-year franchise tag], then, I mean, that is what it is and I’m comfortable with that. Obviously, that’s a possibility. That’s fine. It is what it is. As I said before, my main focus now is continuing to be better and get better.”

The Bears placed the $17.98 million franchise tag tender on Robinson after the two sides were unable to agree to an extension last year. The veteran receiver led the team with 102 catches for 1,250 yards in 2020.

Robinson, 27, skipped the Bears’ voluntary offseason workout program but reported to this week’s mandatory three-day minicamp. Robinson added on Tuesday that he will be on time to training camp when it opens next month.

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“At the end of the day, [the offseason workouts] are optional things, and I think I have a pretty good routine I’ve been working through and progressing in certain areas at the pace that I want,” said Robinson, who focused on creating more muscle endurance in the offseason to be more effective after the catch.

Since joining the Bears in 2018, Robinson has been far and away the team’s top wide receiver.

Despite playing on some of the league’s lower-rated offenses, Robinson has caught 255 passes for 3,151 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past three seasons.

“It was really good [to have Robinson rejoin the team this week],” head coach Matt Nagy said.

“You guys know I have a really good relationship with A-Rob, and anytime you have that quality of player that shows back up and gets out here in the huddle and just that experience that he brings, he just has such a quiet calm and confidence to him that you can see the guys out there throwing him the football and the things he’s doing, he just slides on in.

The one sneaky thing about A-Rob that I think is pretty cool is, No. 1, even if he’s not here, you know he’s working his tail off, and No. 2, he’s always in great shape, and we noticed that.”

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Julio Jones, asked about future with Atlanta Falcons, says ‘I’m outta there’

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones stated Monday he is planning on leaving the franchise during an interview on FS1.

“I’m outta there,” Jones said when reached by telephone by Shannon Sharpe on the network’s “Undisputed” show.

Jones had been the subject of trade talks recently after general manager Terry Fontenot said the team would be taking calls about the former All-Pro receiver last month.

Jones, 32, demanded a trade from the Falcons at the beginning of the offseason in March, but the organization was trying to protect him and work quietly behind the scenes, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and has been talking to other teams for weeks.

The Falcons prefer not to trade him in the NFC but would do so for the right price, the source said.

Atlanta has asked teams that have inquired about Jones for a first-round draft pick in return, sources told Schefter.

When Jones was asked by Sharpe where he would like to go play, he said he would like to play for a winner.

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“Right now I wanna win,” Jones said.

Jones, whose base salary of $15.3 million is fully guaranteed for this campaign, is scheduled to cost the Falcons $23.05 million against the cap in 2021 and has cap hits of $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023.

If the Falcons move Jones after June 1, the move would offer Atlanta relief against the cap this season because the dead money owed to him would be split between this season and next.

Jones has played 10 seasons with the Falcons, who selected him sixth overall in the 2011 draft, leading the NFL in receiving twice (1,871 yards in 2015 and 1,677 yards in 2018) and three times in yards per game (2015, 2016 and 2018).

He made seven Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro in 2015 and 2016.

He became one of the faces of the Falcons, starting 134 of the 135 matches he played in and making 848 catches for 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns. He’s the Falcons’ all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards and second to Roddy White in receiving touchdowns (63).

Jones, though, had one of his worst seasons in 2020, limited to nine games due to injury with 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns. While his 15.1 yards per catch was his highest since 2017 and his catch percentage of 75% was the best of his career, his 85.7 yards per game was his lowest since 2012, his second year in the league.

The Falcons did make one receiver move Monday, signing receiver Tajae Sharpe. The 26-year-old spent four seasons in Tennessee with Arthur Smith, now the Falcons’ head coach, from 2016 to 2019, where he caught 92 passes for 1,167 yards and eight touchdowns. He spent 2020 with Minnesota, where he played in four games with no catches.

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Star receiver Julian Edelman, 34, retires, ending 12-year career with New England Patriots

Patriots star receiver Julian Edelman, who helped New England win three championships and was the MVP of Super Bowl LIII, declared his retirement in a video posted on social media Monday.

The NFL transaction wire released Monday stated that Edelman had his contract terminated by the Patriots, but the roster move is expected to be a technicality as part of his retirement, a source told ESPN.

“It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family,” Edelman said. “And I’m honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot. … It’s been the best 12 years of my life.”

Edelman, who turns 35 next month, was limited to six matches last season because of a chronic knee injury. He spent his entire 12-year career with the Patriots and ranks second in NFL history with 118 postseason receptions, behind only Jerry Rice’s 151.

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Edelman caps his career in second place on the all-time Patriots chart for receptions (620), behind only Wes Welker (672).

He is fourth on the team’s career receiving yards list with 6,822 receiving yards, behind only Stanley Morgan (10,352), Rob Gronkowski (7,861) and Welker (7,459).

Edelman was still playing at a high level last campaign, totaling a career-high 179 yards in a Week 2 loss to the Seahawks. But the nagging knee injury ultimately landed him on injured reserve in late October, and while there was hope he might return late in the season, he wasn’t healthy enough to be activated.

Because of his health, the Patriots went into the 2021 offseason unsure of Edelman’s status, which contributed to their agreeing to contracts with receivers Nelson Agholor (two years, $26 million, with $15 million guaranteed) and Kendrick Bourne (three years, $22.5 million, with $5.25 million guaranteed) on the first day of free agency.

Edelman was also entering the final year of his contract.

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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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