Tagged in: training

New England Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore reports to training camp

New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who had skipped June’s mandatory minicamp, reported to the team on Thursday, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates. Gilmore was subsequently placed on the active/physically unable to perform list due to a partially torn quad sustained in December.

While the majority of Patriots players report for training camp on Tuesday, quarterbacks and players recovering from injuries were booked to arrive Thursday.

There was a question whether Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, would report. He had stayed away from voluntary practices in the spring, as well as mandatory minicamp, while publicly expressing a desire for the team to upgrade his contract.

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Gilmore is scheduled to earn a base salary of $7 million in 2021.

The Patriots had advanced him $4.5 million of his 2021 salary last year, contributing to the under-market wage for this season.

Gilmore, who turns 31 in September, is in the final year of the five-year, $65 million contract he signed with the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. The deal included $40 million in injury guarantees and $31 million fully guaranteed at signing.

At the time, a contract with those guarantees and an average of $13 million per season was viewed as a strong deal. The cornerback market has since exploded, with Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams topping it with a contract averaging $20 million per season.

“I just want what I’m worth, however that plays out. Every player should be paid what they’re worth. That’s just how it is,” Gilmore told longtime NFL reporter Josina Anderson earlier in July.

Of his quad injury, Gilmore told Anderson: “I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt since the surgery. I’ve been running a lot, building full speed.”

Gilmore was one of eight players placed on the PUP list on Thursday, with quarterback Jarrett Stidham another notable player on the list.

Outside linebacker Chase Winovich, defensive tackle Byron Cowart, linebacker Terez Hall, tight end Dalton Keene, core special-teamer Brandon King and wide receiver Devin Smith were the other players placed on the PUP list.

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson (fourth round, Oklahoma), linebacker Cameron McGrone (fifth round, Michigan) and safety Joshuah Bledsoe (sixth round, Missouri) were rookies previously placed on the active/non-football injury list.

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Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers agree on 5-year, $95 million extension

The San Francisco 49ers took care of their final piece of big offseason business Wednesday, agreeing to terms with Fred Warner on a contract that will make him the highest-paid off-ball linebacker in NFL history, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Warner and the Niners agreed to a five-year, $95 million deal that contains $40.5 million guaranteed, sources told Schefter. The $19 million average annual value surpasses the previous high of $18 million per year held by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Warner’s $40.5 million is the second-highest guaranteed total for an off-ball linebacker, trailing only the New York Jets’ C.J. Mosley’s $51 million, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

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The deal comes six days before the 49ers are booked to report to training camp and 10 days before they start practice on July 31, which was always viewed as an unofficial deadline for Warner and the team to complete a deal.

Warner, 24, left little doubt that he wanted to get a deal done this past May during organized team activities, when he said he wants “to be a Niner for life.”

A third-round pick in the 2018 draft, Warner ranks seventh in the NFL in tackles (366) and is one of two players with 250-plus solo tackles (252) and 15-plus pass breakups (16) in that time, along with Wagner.

Warner ended last season with 125 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions as he earned his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods along with the Niners’ two most prestigious team awards.

Warner joins tight end George Kittle and left tackle Trent Williams in landing record-setting contracts for their position in the past year.

Kittle re-signed just before last year’s training camp, and Williams agreed to his deal with the Niners in March.

Getting Warner’s deal done now also helps reset the market for his position, as the Indianapolis Colts’ Darius Leonard and Chicago Bears’ Roquan Smith are also due for lucrative extensions.

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Cleveland TE David Njoku asks Browns for trade

Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku has demanded a trade before training camp, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday.

“It is in David’s best interest to find a new team at this time,” Njoku’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said, via Schefter. Training camps starts July 28.

The Browns would like to keep him, per the report. The team exercised Njoku’s fifth-year option in April, keeping him under contract through the 2021 campaign.

The news, however, reportedly wasn’t shocking to the Browns. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the team has known for about a year that he has been unhappy in Cleveland.

Njoku, who turns 24 next Friday, missed most of the 2019 season with a broken wrist and a concussion. The former first-round draft pick out of Miami has 93 receptions, 1,066 yards and nine touchdowns in 36 matches with the Browns. He started 14 of 16 games in 2018, his second season, and caught 56 passes for 639 yards with four touchdowns.

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It may be in Njoku’s “best interest” to leave because of who joined the team.

Cleveland added Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper in the offseason, reportedly agreeing to a deal minutes into the so-called legal tampering period. They agreed to a four-year, $42 million deal that made him the NFL’s highest paid at the position.

Then in the 2020 NFL draft, the team selected tight end Harrison Bryant out of Florida Atlantic in the fourth round.

Stefanski has said he has formations including three tight ends! Njoku is with a coach who is close to being obsessed with the position.

A healthy Njoku in the proper frame of mind is with an offense where he could have a huge season.

Njoku has to realize Berry was part of the 2017 Sashi Brown front office that traded up into the first round to grab him with the 29th pick. Berry was a significant talent evaluator for that front office and has a stake in Njoku playing well. It’s part of the reason the 2021 option was picked up. Berry thinks the 24 year old can play, period.

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Patriots RB Sony Michel recovering from foot surgery

New England Patriots running back Sony Michel underwent a minor foot surgery in May, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.

Michel’s surgery was “maintenance-based” and focused on minor discomforts he’s been having, according to Reiss. The Patriots will start training camp in late July and Michel’s recovery time is still up in the air. His progress will determine if he has to start training camp on the physically unable to perform list or not.

He’s heading into his third NFL season and the first two have been extremely successful. Michel had a storybook start to his career — breaking playoff records and winning a Super Bowl in his first season. Although his production slipped slightly in 2019, he still produced 912 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns. Michel only missed three matches with the Patriots, but he has dealt with multiple knee injuries throughout his short-lived NFL career. He had fluid drained from his knee ahead of his rookie season and twisted his knee again later that year.

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New England’s running back depth consists Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris and Brandon Bolden. Harris was drafted in the third round last season and barely saw the field, but this could be his chance to step up.

The Patriots’ running back corps is extremely deep and will help navigate the offense without Tom Brady on the field. Michel’s health will be crucial to the success of this season, so it’s something to closely monitor.

When the Patriots chose Michel in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, there was palpable worry about his history of knee injuries coming out of Georgia.

These fears weren’t unmerited. He had fluid drained from his knee before his first game, and he underwent a knee scope in the summer of 2019.

This is the third consecutive offseason where he may not play all of training camp due to a medical issue, and the first time it isn’t his knee. On the bright side, he’s only ever missed three games due to the injury bug, and this surgery doesn’t look to risk any more.

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