AROUND THE NFL
We have coverage of the big trade that sent WR ODELL BECKHAM, Jr. in both NEW YORK GIANTS and CLEVELAND. Here is an overview from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com says the Giants played things significantly better than the Steelers:
The Steelers got a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick for Antonio Brown. The Giants got a lot more than that for Odell Beckham Jr.
The reasons for the differences are obvious. First, the Steelers made it clear that they wanted to move on from Brown. The Giants, in contrast, insisted that they were keeping him. And the “we’ll keep him” posture often becomes the best leverage in trade talks.
Second, Antonio Brown embarked on a scorched earth/bleached ‘stache effort to get out of town. Beckham had engaged in no similar campaign to be traded.
It adds up to the Browns giving up a lot more to get Beckham (a one, a three, and Jabrill Peppers) than the Raiders gave up to get Brown, because the Giants were committed to perpetuating the ruse that under no circumstances would they trade him. The Giants played it the right way, and the Steelers simply didn’t.
Here’s another wrinkle to consider: Could the Browns have gotten Brown for less than what they gave up to get Beckham? Although the Steelers didn’t want to trade Brown in the division, an offer of simply a first-round pick may have been enough to get the Steelers to change their minds.
Regardless, as Brown exists the AFC North, Beckham enters — and the Browns instantly feel like the team to beat in the division.
WR CORDARELLE PATTERSON, who spent last year winning a Super Bowl ring, is returning to the NFC North. Grant Gordon of NFL.com:
Departures from the Super Bowl champions continue to mount.
Return specialist, versatile receiver and part-time running back Cordarrelle Patterson is expected to leave the Patriots and return to the NFC North on a two-year, $10 million deal with the Chicago Bears, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported. Pelissero added the contract boasts $5 million guaranteed.
A two-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler in four seasons with the Vikings, Patterson spent a year in Oakland before playing an important role during the Patriots’ 2018 championship run.
Patterson’s versatility was showcased aplenty in New England with 21 catches for 247 yards and three touchdowns. He also totaled 42 carries for 228 yards and a score and an impressive 28.8 yards per kick return in 23 attempts.
Patterson follows the likes of left tackle Trent Brown and defensive end Trey Flowers as players who helped the Patriots to a title, but are slated to depart.
Now, he’ll be a welcomed weapon for the Bears, the reigning NFC North champions, in the second-year under coach Matt Nagy.
The Packers make some moves in free agency per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com:
In one morning, the Green Bay Packers made three moves to reshape their struggling defense, agreeing to terms with a pair of pass-rushers in Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith plus safety Adrian Amos, according to league sources.
The deals were finalized Tuesday and can be signed when the NFL year opens at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday. NFL Network was first to report the Za’Darius Smith and Amos deals.
Za’Darius Smith will sign a four-year contract worth $66 million, including a $20 million signing bonus and $34.5 million in the first two years of the deal, according to his agents at SportsTrust Advisors.
Preston Smith will get a four-year deal worth $52 million, with $16 million fully guaranteed at signing, sources told ESPN’s Josina Anderson. Smith’s choices came down to the Indianapolis Colts and Packers, a source said.
Amos is slated to get a four-year, $37 million deal, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He will earn $14 million in the first year and $21 million in the first two combined.
Packers second-year general manager Brian Gutekunst was expected to be active in free agency, especially to add pass-rushers, but this is perhaps even more than expected. The team first agreed to a deal with Za’Darius Smith, who led the Baltimore Ravens with 8.5 sacks last season, and then signed Amos away from divisional rival Chicago to provide help in the secondary. Less than two hours later, they came to a deal with Preston Smith, who had 24.5 sacks in his four seasons with the Washington Redskins.
It’s a boon for second-year defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who was retained by new coach Matt LaFleur.
After swinging these deals, the Packers released former first-round pick Nick Perry.
LB ANTHONY BARR decides not to join the Jets after all. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:
There’s a reason that it’s smart to point out that deals negotiated during the free-agency negotiating window aren’t done until they’re done. It’s because they aren’t done until they’re done.
Linebacker Anthony Barr has decided not to sign with the Jets, after all. Instead, Barr will remain with the Vikings, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Media.
Multiple reports emerged on Monday night that Barr would leave the Vikings and join the Jets. But the deal isn’t binding until it’s signed, and Barr hadn’t signed the deal.
Barr can sign with the Vikings at any time, since he was under contract with them last season. In all, he has been under contract with the Vikings for five seasons, and the relationship will continue.
As long as he signs the contract.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Judy Battista of NFL.com can’t commend the Giants for their decision to trade WR ODELL BECKHAM, which is otherwise covered in CLEVELAND today:
The New York Giants always kept just a tiny bit of daylight when they talked about Odell Beckham, Jr., just enough wiggle room to keep alive the absurd notion of trading their most electrifying player.
“We didn’t sign Odell to trade him,” general manager Dave Gettleman said, as recently as the NFL Scouting Combine just a few weeks ago.
Another thing he has said: You don’t give up on talent.
Apparently, the Giants do.
On Tuesday night, the Giants effectively blew up their franchise, trading Beckham to the Cleveland Browns less than a year after giving him a massive contract extension. It sent the Giants into the most awkward and nonsensical kind of rebuild — a nearly complete one, but one that will, apparently, still feature 38-year-old Eli Manning.
It’s frankly hard to see what the Giants’ plan is, unless they have one more dramatic move in their future. In the space of a handful of days, they have given up on three of the most talented players on their team — Landon Collins, Olivier Vernon and now Beckham — and for their troubles they got a starting guard (Kevin Zeitler), the Browns’ first-round draft pick, the last pick of the third round and safety Jabrill Peppers, a former first-round pick.
There is plenty of time to question whether that is adequate compensation, and for that matter why they didn’t trade Collins last season rather than letting him go for nothing. What is unquestionable is that the Giants’ attempt at a competitive rebuild should be over. These moves make a modicum of sense only if the next one is the one they dread most of all. What is the point of keeping Manning — no matter how much better the offensive line should be at protecting him — if you just took out of his arsenal one of the most dangerous receivers in the game.
The mess is wholly of the Giants’ creation and it goes back a few years. They botched a chance to see a possible heir apparent on the field when Ben McAdoo was still the coach in 2017, even as Manning struggled on a sub-par team. When Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur arrived last year, they convinced themselves the Giants could again be Super Bowl contenders with just a few moves. So instead of selecting a quarterback from a loaded draft class in 2018, they took running back Saquon Barkley; a superb, dynamic player, but a running back nonetheless. They gave Beckham the extension, which at least suggested that he and Barkley would be the cornerstones of some future incarnation and, perhaps, enough to push the Giants out of mediocrity immediately. Their other moves did not turn out as well, and the Giants floundered again. And now this cratering of an offseason.
Point to Beckham’s sometimes immature theatrics off the field all you like. He is a transcendent player, a hard worker and a well-liked teammate who was never in any actual legal trouble. He is a superstar and the kind of player who keeps opposing defensive coordinators awake at night. The Giants were willing to forsake that kind of threat in a league that continues to tilt toward scoring to relieve themselves of what appeared on the outside to be merely a headache.
That is a failure of the entire organization — of the talent evaluators, obviously, who have not been able to keep the Giants competitive. But also of the coaches going all the way back even to Tom Coughlin, who could not figure out a way to manage Beckham in a way that would get the best out of him while minimizing the occasional flareups.
It is time to stop pretending. This would seem to be an unspoken admission that the current regime underestimated just how much of a rebuild was needed and this is now the unsightly but necessary course correction. The Giants are not a few tweaks away from contention. They are perhaps a few years away. They now have significant draft capital to rebuild, but that assumes they hit on all those picks, the ones they will have to use on a pass rusher and perhaps — yes, finally — a young quarterback. Barkley is a building block, but he is just one, and the Giants now need many more, including, alas, at wide receiver.
What they need even more urgently is a direction.
The Giants have more troubling questions to answer than who they will draft. They have to ask if they have the right people in place to forge that direction. It is ironic that Gettleman made this deal with the Browns, a team that had collected draft picks while scuffling along in fits and starts of failed decisions. The Browns, with general manager John Dorsey in place, have finally put the pieces together to assemble a young, talented roster.
Maybe the Giants will be that kind of hopeful team again, too. They are assembling the draft picks they need for an overhaul. But they are also making head-scratching decisions, stumbling through seasons, searching for steadiness. They look, in short, much less like the new Browns than the old ones.
This doesn’t seem to be a revolutionary take, but Tim McManus of ESPN.com says that the starting QB of the Eagles benefits the most when the team signs a big money receiver in one WR DeSEAN JACKSON.
Why make this move?
The Eagles have been chasing a speed receiver of Jackson’s caliber since the day former coach Chip Kelly cut Jackson in March 2014. Torrey Smith filled the role during the team’s Super Bowl run in 2017 but didn’t strike fear in the hearts of his opponents quite like Jackson can. Mike Wallace was supposed to be the field-stretcher last season, but he broke his leg in Week 2, and the offense suffered for it.
The ideal setup is to have a burner working opposite a big, physical wideout such as Alshon Jeffery. That’s when coach Doug Pederson’s offense is at its best. Same goes for the mirror system of his mentor, Andy Reid, who drafted Jackson and is now blessed with Tyreek Hill in Kansas City. As one of the best deep-threat receivers in NFL history, Jackson fits the bill quite well.
Jackson has 29 touchdowns of 50-plus yards in his career, second to only Jerry Rice (36).
Who benefits the most?
Carson Wentz. There is some gunslinger to his game and he’s got a big arm. He’ll feel right at home airing it out and letting Jackson do his thing on the other end.
I’ll just stand here and throw it as far as I can, you go ahead and just RUN…. how’s that sound @DeSeanJackson11 ??? 😎
Welcome back to Philly my man!
Expect Wentz’s deep-ball accuracy to jump up.
Jackson’s value also comes via lifting the top off a defense and attracting attention. There should be more space in the intermediate areas for guys such as Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert to operate in. Wentz should be able to take advantage of Jackson’s gravitational pull in the secondary.
The Falcons are doubling up at guard according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The Falcons are expected to sign former New York Giants guard Jamon Brown to a three-year contract, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed Tuesday.
Zach Klein of WSB Channel 2 Action News first reported the Brown deal.Also, former Jets left guard James Carpenter intends to sign a four-year deal with the Falcons, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
Adam Schefter of ESPN first reported the deal. Neither deal can become official until the new NFL year starts at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Brown, 25, was a third-round pick by the Rams in 2015. He’s played in 50 games and made 38 starts. He’s 6-foot-4 and 340 pounds.He played with the Rams and the Giants last season.Carpenter, who will turn 30 on March 22, is from Augusta and played at Alabama.
Carpenter was a first-round pick (25th overall) of Seattle in 2011. He has played the past four seasons with the Jets.Carpenter has played in 103 games and made 97 starts in the NFL.
The Panthers have landed a center in free agency. David Newton of ESPN.com:
The Carolina Panthers checked several boxes on Tuesday by reaching an agreement on a three-year deal with former Denver Broncos center Matt Paradis to replace retired five-time Pro Bowl selection Ryan Kalil.
The deal is worth $27 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Coach Ron Rivera recently said at the NFL combine that protecting quarterback Cam Newton and providing a strong leader on the offensive line was a key offseason need.
He got that in the 29-year-old Paradis.
Paradis was one of the surest things in the league — playing all 3,606 offensive snaps for the Denver Broncos since the start of the 2015 season — until suffering a fractured fibula this past season. He had surgery to repair the fracture as well as some ligament damage, but both he and the Broncos, who wanted to keep the 29-year-old center, have consistently said he’d be ready for the 2019 season.
In addition to his durability, Paradis also is known for his toughness. His streak of consecutive snaps included the 2017 season, when Paradis played every snap after offseason surgery on both hips.
Paradis, a sixth-round pick (207th overall) in the 2014 draft, wasn’t offering any discounts after waiting for free agency longer than many of his peers in that draft and performing at a higher level than most.
The Broncos somewhat inexplicably kept Paradis on the practice squad during his rookie season despite performing well enough in offseason workouts and training camp to deserve at least a backup spot on the 53-man roster.
Paradis is also one of the few players in the league who played eight-man football as a prep player. He was Idaho’s 1A Player of the Year as a senior at Council High School and was switched to center from the defensive line just before the start of his sophomore year at Boise State.
Council, Idaho has a population of 839 folks, which still is enough to make it the county seat of Adams County which has 3,976 people. It is 127 miles north of Boise up US95, at the foot of the Payette National Forest.
Martin Fennelly in the Tampa Bay Times is puzzled by how the Buccaneers can be up against the cap even as they still wallow in the basement
First, let’s be clear. It’s not as if a Super Bowl team is being broken up.
It’s the Bucs.
Oh, is it the Bucs.
It’s the Bucs, even the feel-good Bruce Arians Bucs, still run by headless honcho GM Jason Licht.
It’s the Bucs, who sat helpless, in the studio audience, by their own doing, on the first full day of NFL free agency, and meanwhile watched Kwon Alexander and Adam Humphries, two rightful points of pride, go out the door.
It’s the Bucs, who unloaded dead weight frumpy bear DeSean Jackson months after they should have.
It’s the Bucs, who despite going 5-11, have the cap problems of a playoff team: no money. They had like $2 million in cap space when Monday broke, less than almost any NFL team. It’s one thing to be terrible. It’s quite another to be terrible and expensive.
But the Bucs pulled it off.
Look, everybody who hits free agency gets overpaid. I’m sure Alexander, who is coming off knee surgery, was overpaid by the 49ers. Is Nick Foles a $88-million QB? Of course not.
That’s not the point.
The point is that Monday was Black Friday. Store doors flew open, shoppers rushed in. And the Bucs, despite being lousy, were looking for quarters under couch cushions. It’s just another indicator of how badly this organization is run.
At 5-11, you have so little cap space you can’t even afford to keep the young players you want to keep. Really?
The Colts had $100 million to spend. And they made the playoffs last season. The Bucs’ pockets are empty.
I’m not saying overspend. But just a few days ago, the Bucs decided that two more of their generally subpar offensive linemen were worth signing to big deals, as if Licht paying them makes Donovan Smith and Demar Dotson any better.
The real story is the Bucs didn’t do everything they needed to do at the trade deadline last season to prepare for Monday.
They have now freed up $10 million by trading Jackson, but they could and should have shed him last season, for maybe a third-round pick from a playoff contender that needed a speed receiver, like Houston or, hey, the Eagles. By Monday, it was clear the Bucs were going to cut Jackson without a taker. Other teams knew it.
Last season was the time. Everybody that made money should have been gone, Jackson, Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre-Paul. McCoy is a good man, a good player, a good draft pick. How many playoff seasons has he had with the Bucs again?
And when the Bucs do come up with and develop a nice find in the draft, like Alexander, or find a Humphries, who is now off to Tennessee, you just have to watch them walk.
And when Arians sends five receivers out in the fall and Jameis Winston ends up under five pass rushers, we’ll have your answer. We haven’t even gotten to the elephant in the Uber in the room, that Winston might stink anyway.
No one can truly explain why the Bucs have decided to pay Smith and Dotson like this. Is there any team out there that values these guys this much except the Bucs?
It is becoming increasingly clear that last season’s surprising, mostly Winston-less start ate through this franchise’s brain and made it delusional.
Trading and dumping last season would have cleared cap space and helped the Bucs load up on picks that could be used at the upcoming draft, which will be chocked with talent.
Monday came, and everybody cut into the free agent bird. The Bucs were at the kids table. Maybe next week they’ll pick up a bargain-rack guy. But free agency will be a net negative for a team that already didn’t have enough talent.
The Bucs will miss Alexander more than Humphries. But they couldn’t keep Alexander, because they put themselves in this position last season, thinking they were going to win last year. That should be the new Bucs marketing slogan: Wait ‘Til Last Year.
The Bucs needed to make this roster deeper, build on it, but didn’t think ahead. It’s like going into retirement and saying, “Hey, what’s the 401k thing?”
Look at the teams that have cap space. Most of them are bad. The Jets were awful last season but have tons of cap space because they took their medicine last season. Licht and the Bucs were unwilling to do that. Now look.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has the best hockey team in the world and a baseball team that is back to making something out of nothing. The Bucs continue to make nothing out of nothing.
Bad and broke and is a grisly combination. Forget the salary cap. Try a dunce cap.
The Buccaneers still have enough money to sign former Cardinals LB DEONE BUCHANNON. Rick Stroud in the Tampa Bay Times:
One day after losing Kwon Alexander to the San Francisco 49ers, the Bucs reached an agreement on a one-year deal with Cardinals linebacker Deone Bucannon.
Under head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Bucannon played a “money-backer’’ position for the Cardinals, a hybrid linebacker/safety spot.
Bucannon apparently chose the Bucs over the New York Giants, where he was well acquainted with defensive coordinator James Bettcher from his time in Arizona.
A first-round pick of the Cardinals in 2014 (27th overall), Bucannon moved to inside linebacker in his second season under Bettcher. He finished with 91 tackles despite being a smallish 6-foot-1, 211 pounds.
That was the highlight of Bucannon’s career, even though the Cardinals picked up his fifth-year option.
NFL Network reported Bucannon chose the Bucs over the Giants.
Last season, Bucannon had 38 tackles and one sack.
With Alexander gone and the status of Kendell Beckwith unknown, the Bucs have a big need for linebackers. Bucannon also could move to safety and has good coverage skills.
– – –
P BRYAN ANGER is out and P BRADLEY PINION is in. Matt Maiocco of NBCSportsBayArea.com:
Bradley Pinion, a 2015 fifth-round draft pick of the 49ers, reportedly agreed to terms Tuesday with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a four-year contract.
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times was first to report Pinion’s agreement.
Pinion ranked 29th in the NFL with an average of 43.7 yards per punt. He was 24th in the league with a net average of 39.1 yards.
The Buccaneers released veteran punter Bryan Anger and agreed to terms with Pinion, Stroud reported. Anger tied for 14th in the league with a 45.0-yard average. He was 26th in net average at 38.9.
Pinion served as the holder during his four seasons with the 49ers. In the past two seasons, Robbie Gould made 72 of 75 field-goal attempts with Pinion holding. Pinion also handled the team’s kickoff chores.
In 2015, Pinion gave up his final season at Clemson to turn pro. After then-49ers GM Trent Baalke selected Pinion with the 165th overall pick, the 49ers traded long-time punter Andy Lee to the Cleveland Browns.
Pinion was the 49ers’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2017 for his commitment to community service.
The Cardinals are going to sign LB JORDAN HICKS reports Kevin Patra of NFL.com:
The Arizona Cardinals upgraded the middle of their defense with a stud linebacker.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that ex-Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks intends to sign a four-year contract worth $36 million in Arizona. The deal includes $12 million to sign and $20 million guaranteed, per Rapoport.
A three-down linebacker, Hicks immediately upgrades the middle of the Cardinals defense. The 26-year-old athletic tackler brings the ability to stuff the run sideline-to-sideline and remains one of the best cover men from the inside linebacker spot. Hicks’ tackling ability will be a welcome sight in Arizona after he missed just five tackles last season, per Pro Football Focus.
After suffering an Achilles injury in 2017, Hicks bounced back in 2018, compiling 91 tackles, five passes defended and three sacks in 12 games.
In a pass-happy league, Hick’s superb coverage ability should immediately help boost Vance Joseph’s defense in the first year under the new regime.
The rangy linebacker has only played 16 games once in his four-year career, but if healthy he can be a difference-maker in Arizona, and is getting paid a handsome sum to star in the middle of the Cardinals’ defense.
The 49ers have landed LB DEE FORD, last seen inches offside in the AFC Championship Game. Terez Paylor of YahooSports.com:
The Kansas City Chiefs have reached an agreement to send outside linebacker Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft, a source tells Yahoo Sports.
The Chiefs recently placed the franchise tag on Ford, who emerged as one of the NFL’s best pass rushers in 2018. The deal also includes Ford’s agreement with the 49ers to a five-year deal worth $87.5 million, a source said.
A first-round pick of the Chiefs in 2014, Ford finished tied for fifth in the NFL in quarterback hurries with 29 and tied for seventh in the league in sacks with 13. His breakout campaign came one year after an injury-riddled 2017 and two years after a breakout campaign in which he registered 10 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries.
Ford, 28, was amenable to playing 2019 on the franchise tag, but Kansas City is shifting away from the 3-4 defensive scheme it used under former defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, who was fired at the end of the season after leading the NFL’s 31st-ranked defense.
Steve Spagnuolo, Kansas City’s new defensive coordinator, will use 4-3 scheme that is predicated on size and strength up front, and Ford — who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 243 pounds — isn’t necessarily a physical prototype for an edge rushing position in Spagnuolo’s system.
That’s not much of a concern for San Francisco, which could use Ford’s pass-rushing prowess. The 49ers ranked 22nd in the NFL last season with 37 sacks.
In return for Ford, the Chiefs will nab a pick that will give them four top 100 picks in the 2020 NFL draft.
The deal clears $15 million in salary-cap space for the Chiefs.
– – –
The 49ers appear to have pushed back against the widespread idea that their contract to free agent LB KWON ALEXANDER was extreme. Jennifer Lee Chan at NBCSportsBayArea.com:
It might have seemed exorbitant for the 49ers to agree to pay former Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander $54 million over four years with $27 million guaranteed. The 49ers, however, have contract specialist Paraag Marathe working the numbers, and gave themselves plenty of room for an out, if necessary.
Much of Alexander’s contract is incentive-based, with the only guaranteed money beyond 2019 being for injury. There are also roster bonuses set into the contract to reduce cap hits if the team does decide to cut him. The contract includes $14.25 million in guaranteed money, an $8.5 million roster bonus and a base salary of $1.75 million for 2019.
The reported terms for former Ravens’ C.J. Mosley and former Eagles’ Jordan Hicks, show that the overall agreement for Alexander is what the market would bear.
Hicks reportedly agreed to $36 million over four years with $20 million guaranteed with the Cardinals. He played in 43 games over his four seasons with the Eagles, registering seven interceptions, one forced fumble and five sacks. He registered 254 total tackles, 180 of those were solo.
Mosley was projected as the top free agent inside linebacker of 2019. He agreed to a whopping $85 million over five years with $51 million guaranteed with the Jets.
Mosley started in all 77 games he appeared in over his five-year stint with the Ravens. He recorded nine interceptions, six forced fumbles and eight and-a-half sacks. Of his 597 total tackles, 398 were solo.
Alexander started in all 46 games he appeared in while he was a Buccaneer. He registered six interceptions, six forced fumbles and seven sacks during that time and 271 of his 380 tackles were solo.
A player is, of course, more than the above listed stats, but they do offer a comparison. There is also the additional detail that Alexander is coming off of season-ending ACL surgery that was performed in late October.
The 49ers have taken a risk in the agreement with Alexander, not knowing how he will perform returning from injury, but it is clearly not as extreme as originally thought.
Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com is among those pained to see LB TERRELL SUGGS take his talents to the desert:
Terrell Suggs became a free agent for the first time in his 16-year NFL career, although no one really believed the seven-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker was going elsewhere.
Suggs idolized Ray Lewis and spoke often about how he wanted to join him as a “Raven for life.” He talked about how the Ravens’ DNA was in his blood.
So imagine the stunned faces when Suggs called members of the Ravens organization Monday to inform them that he was signing with another team.
“I am speechless,” a Ravens official said.
Suggs was as much a part of the Ravens’ storied defensive tradition as Lewis and Ed Reed. The best way to put it is this: Lewis was the heart, Reed was the soul and Suggs was the funny bone.
The biggest personality in team history, Suggs grew along with the franchise, playing in 16 of the Ravens’ 23 years of existence. He went from being a pass-rush specialist as a rookie to the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He went from being the locker room’s class clown to being the last one to speak to the players after pregame warm-ups.
The Ravens will miss Eric Weddle’s leadership, and there will be a void if C.J. Mosley and Za’Darius Smith leave for big deals. But no one’s departure will be as painful this offseason as Suggs’.
Even though Suggs isn’t the same consistent menace to quarterbacks these days, his exit signals the end of an era. Only two defensive players in NFL history (Redskins cornerback Darrell Green and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis) have been with one team longer, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Suggs was the franchise’s most dominant pass-rusher with 132.5 sacks, which are nearly double the number of the next-closest player (Peter Boulware had 70). He was the last starter remaining from the defense on the 2012 Super Bowl team. He was clutch when it mattered the most with the third-most sacks in NFL playoff history (12.5) and perhaps the most unusual turnover.
Suggs’ best play came in the 2014 AFC wild-card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in which he picked off Ben Roethlisberger and held on to the interception by pinning the ball between his legs while falling to the ground.
“You’ll never see a greater catch,” coach John Harbaugh said after the game. “We just gave him the game ball for the greatest catch in the history of football.”
When Suggs took over as the face of the defense, he did so with a smirk. Suggs routinely hijacked owner Steve Bisciotti’s golf cart and rode it across the fields before the start of practice, crashing it into the blocking dummies. He could always be heard on the field whether it was ribbing a teammate or singing the “Titanic” theme song.
Suggs’ one-liners are just as memorable as his game-changing plays. In 2005, the Ravens were flagged for a team-record 21 penalties and Suggs was thrown out of the game by referee Mike Carey, who said the seven-time Pro Bowl player had “malice in his heart.” Suggs later said, “How can I have malice in my heart when I don’t even know what malice means?” After a 2011 season-opening win in Pittsburgh, Suggs said of Ben Roethlisberger, “God can have his soul, but his ass belongs to me.”
Few players loved the rivalry with the Steelers more than Suggs, who once wore a T-shirt that featured a purple raven flipping the bird and the words “Hey Pittsburgh.” Before the 2008 AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh, Suggs wanted to play up an injury and put a brace on his shoulder. But a public relations staff member had to stop him before he stepped in front of reporters because he was wearing the harness on the wrong shoulder.
Suggs was the definition of durability, playing in more games than any other Ravens player (229). The only times he missed games were for Achilles injuries (two of them) and a torn biceps.
“I have Raven in my DNA,” Suggs once said. “I only know one way to play.”
The Browns have landed WR ODELL BECKHAM, Jr. in a blockbuster. And suddenly, with the losses from the rosters in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, plus this, is any team a bigger favorite to win a division in 2019, as hard as it is to write, than the Browns?
Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com:
The news of the bombshell trade sending wide receiver Odell Beckham from the Giants to the Browns came without word of what would be going back the other way.
That word came a short time later. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Giants will receive the Browns’ first-round pick, No. 17 overall, along with a third-round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers. The third-round pick is No. 95 overall and came to the Browns from the Patriots in exchange for defensive tackle Danny Shelton.
The Giants now have two first-round picks, No. 6 and No. 17, at their disposal. That’s good ammunition to use if they wanted to make a move to take their quarterback of the future if they identify him. The third-rounder replaces the pick they used to take cornerback Sam Beal in the supplemental draft last year.
Peppers was a first-round pick in 2017 and is the second safety the Giants are set to acquire — Antoine Bethea is the other — since Landon Collins agreed to a deal with Washington. Peppers has also returned kickoffs and punts during his first two NFL seasons.
Will Brinson of CBSSports.com and (and the oddsmakers in Vegas) think Cleveland got the better of the deal:
It’s a stunner of a deal and, frankly, an incredible steal for the Browns. They lose a potential stud and former first-round pick in terms of Peppers but their offense is suddenly LOADED.
Baker Mayfield, who should have been the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, will be throwing to Beckham, Jarvis Landry (OBJ’s teammate at LSU), Antonio Callaway and David Njoku. Not too shabby, and you can throw Nick Chubb into the mix in the backfield as well. This is suddenly a filthy offense the Browns are trotting out onto the field as they hope to contend for the division title.
It’s an aggressive-as-all-get-out play by GM John Dorsey, and it probably won’t be cheap. As CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported on CBS Sports HQ on Tuesday night, there should be plenty of issues that Odell has to deal with in terms of his contract. Beckham was not, La Canfora reported, a part of the trade talks between the two teams as the negotiations were going along.
In other words, Beckham if he wanted, could potentially raise a stink about the trade and wanting a new contract — a la Antonio Brown to the Bills in a deal that fell through — and create some issues. That being said, he’s going to a good spot on a fun young team with a ton of talented skill position players.
For the Giants, this is not entirely a white-flag situation with their 2019 season, but it does signal a move towards making Saquon Barkley the face of the franchise and moving on from the best player on the roster — not a thing teams usually do — just a year after doubling down on the twilight of Eli Manning’s career.
The Westgate SuperBook released updated Super Bowl odds in the wake of the Beckham trade, with the Browns now at 14-to-1 to win it all. That’s better than the Chargers, Bears and Colts (all at 16-to-1), as well as the Vikings and Eagles (both at 20-to-1). The Browns’ AFC North rivals are well behind the Browns, with the Steelers at 30-to-1 and the Ravens at 40-to-1. The Giants’ odds to win the title have dropped to 80-to-1.
The DB wouldn’t be so quick to give the trade to the Browns. That’s quite a bit of value back to the Giants. And New York was able to lose plenty of games with Beckham in the lineup. See the note from Mike Florio at NEW YORK GIANTS.
Evan McPhillips of ProFootballFocus.com offers this assessment of what Beckham should do with Mayfield.
If Mayfield’s rookie season was any indication of what lies ahead, he will be able to better complement the vertical element of Odell Beckham Jr.’s game. The rookie quarterback produced a 107.6 passer rating on deep attempts (seventh among qualifying quarterbacks) to go along with 1,008 deep passing yards and 11 touchdowns, both of which rank sixth at the quarterback position.
Beckham Jr. will also be able to provide Mayfield with some much-need help, as the Browns pass-catchers collectively earned a 72.5 receiving grade in 2018, a mark that ranked 23rd among NFL teams. They also combined for 32 dropped passes and were faulted with 16 interceptions, leading to Mayfield having 5.8% of his on-target passes dropped (tied for ninth-highest drop rate among QBs).
Jarvis Landry was the Browns’ highest-graded receiver this past season, earning a 74.7 overall grade, which is actually a career-low for Landry. Landry also accounted for seven of the 15 total avoided tackles by Browns receivers last season. Odell Beckham Jr. was able to generate 20 avoided tackles by himself, a mark that ranks first among all receivers, in only 12 games, demonstrating the tremendous impact he can have on the Browns’ offense.
Odell Beckham Jr. and Baker Mayfield both had exceptional seasons that could have been even more brilliant, given elevated play from their teammates at the quarterback and receiving positions, respectively. By pairing super-star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with a burgeoning star quarterback in Baker Mayfield, the Browns have assembled a deadly offense and firmly entrenched themselves as contenders in the AFC for the foreseeable future.
One prominent Steeler who is remaining on the roster is LB RYAN SHAZIER. Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
The Pittsburgh Steelers gained some clarity on injured linebacker Ryan Shazier’s contract situation and announced Tuesday that his salary will be tolled for the 2019 season.
While he continues his recovery from a spinal cord injury, Shazier will remain on the roster for the upcoming season and will be placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list.
By having his contract tolled, Shazier will receive a salary “commensurate with his years of service in the NFL,” according to a story posted on the team’s website. It allows Shazier to accrue another year toward his NFL pension, and he will receive the same medical coverage as active players.
The NFL minimum salary for a player with Shazier’s service time is $805,000. But for a player who spends the season on injured reserve, that amount is reduced to $437,000 or the equivalent of 10 game checks.
Injured in a December 2017 game in Cincinnati, Shazier sat out the 2018 season and general manager Kevin Colbert announced in February that Shazier will not play in 2019 as he continues his comeback.
The Texans, having lost CB KAREEM JACKSON to Denver, are signing CB BRADLEY ROBY, formerly of the Broncos, to a one-year deal worth a cool $10 mil. According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Roby chose Houston over competing offers from the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers. He drew interest from the Cleveland Browns.
The Titans have added veteran OL RODGER SAFFOLD. ESPN.com:
Former Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Rodger Saffold intends to sign a four-year, $44 million deal that includes $22.5 million guaranteed with the Tennessee Titans, a source tells ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Saffold, 30, was the Rams’ longest-tenured player after the organization selected him in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2010 draft from Indiana.
Last season, Saffold played an instrumental role in helping to protect quarterback Jared Goff as he passed for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions, and was sacked 33 times. Saffold also helped spring running back Todd Gurley to a second consecutive 1,000-plus-yard season, as Gurley rushed for 1,251 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Saffold was third among all guards in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate last season (min. 300 blocks), holding his blocks for at least 2.5 seconds 87.4 percent of the time, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
In nine seasons, the 6-foot-5, 323-pound Saffold played every position on the line except center. Over the past two seasons, Saffold started every game at left guard — with the exception of Week 17 in 2017, when coach Sean McVay elected to rest starters.
Following his rookie contract, the Rams signed Saffold to a five-year extension worth $31.7 million in 2014.
Erik Bacharach in The Tennessean:
The Titans will plug Saffold in at left guard, where he represents a significant upgrade over Quinton Spain, who is a free agent after manning the position for the past four years.
Of the 131 offensive guards evaluated by Pro Football Focus, Saffold had the fifth-highest grade for run blocking in 2018. And after a season in which the Titans’ offensive line was banged up, Saffold’s durability is alluring; he started 46 of the Rams’ 48 games since 2016.
The 6-foot-5, 323-pound Saffold now joins a left side of the line that is anchored by tackle Taylor Lewan, who on Monday asked Saffold via Twitter if he wanted to be “best friends.”
“I’m ready to be best friends now! Lol,” Saffold tweeted to Lewan shortly after the news broke on Tuesday. “We’ll create something special. Thanks for the warm welcome bro!”
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A three-year deal for a 37-year-old edge rusher? That’s what the Titans are doing with CAMERON WAKE. Grant Gordon of NFL.com:
A decade with the Dolphins has concluded for pass rusher Cameron Wake.
Wake and the Tennessee Titans have agreed to a three-year, $23 million deal, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday, per a source. Pelissero added that $10 million is guaranteed.
Wake will be 37 when he takes the field for the Titans following a final season with Miami in which he posted six sacks — the least since his rookie year — and contributed 36 tackles. Still, the total wasn’t far behind the Titans’ Jurrell Casey, who led the Titans with seven sacks in 2018.
A five-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro selection, Wake has the resume and experience to improve the Titans’ defense if he still has some left in the tank.
The new regime in Miami has decided to keep WR DeVANTE PARKER around. Charles Trainor, Jr. of the Miami Herald:
Don’t call DeVante Parker a bust.
Call him a Miami Dolphin — at least for another year.
Parker and the Dolphins on Tuesday afternoon agreed on a two-year, $10 million contract that could pay him as much as $13 million if he hits all of his incentives, sources tell the Miami Herald. The contract includes no guaranteed money beyond the first year.
The new deal supersedes Parker’s fifth-year option, which was to pay him $9.4 million in base salary this year.
He was never going to get that, not with his injury history (he has missed 10 games in his career due to a litany of maladies) and production (just nine touchdowns in four seasons).
But general manager Chris Grier still believes in Parker’s talent, and coach Brian Flores does, too. Plus, Parker wanted to remain in Miami, even after some drama with former coach Adam Gase last season.
Gase refused to play Parker in some games last year even though Parker believed he was healthy enough to go. That prompted Parker’s agent, Jimmy Gould, to roast the Dolphins’ previous coach on the record.
“Parker is not only healthy but wants to help this team win and the only real question that should be asked is how does Coach Gase justify his own incompetence,” Gould said after the Dolphins’ Oct. 21 loss to the Lions. “They averaged only 6.1 yards per pass catch. They needed Parker who is completely healthy and was in full participation all week and in warm ups this morning.
“Something smells in Miami.”
Had Gase remained, it’s hard to see how Parker would be back.
Gase is now with the New York Jets, however, and Parker is happy about having another chance to prove the Dolphins did not make a mistake by using a first-round pick on him in 2015.
Parker’s natural ability is unquestioned, but the Dolphins did take issue early in his career with his professionalism and durability. At one point, Gase publicly called out the player over his eating and sleeping habits.
But Parker seemed to get past that as his career progressed.
His biggest — and perhaps only — impediment to success, he believed last season, was staying healthy. He has had foot, hamstring, and ankle issues in his short career.
With Parker back, the Dolphins’ 2019 receiving corps looks like this:
Parker, Albert Wilson, and Jakeem Grant (who are both coming off season-ending injuries), and, assuming he does not get cut or traded, Kenny Stills.
The Dolphins are in the market for another wide receiver after cutting Danny Amendola and have had expressed preliminary interest in former University of Miami wideout Phillip Dorsett.
NEW YORK JETS
After much hemming and hawing and tooing and froing, RB Le’VEON BELL is a Jet. This from Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com :
Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has a new home with the New York Jets, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.
The deal will pay Bell $52.5 million over four years. The deal averages $13.125 million a season over that span with $35 million guaranteed and a max value of $61 million.
Bell held out the entirety of the 2018 season to avoid playing on the franchise tag with the Steelers. The Steelers declined to place the tag on Bell again for 2019 and allowed him to reach free agency.
While Bell may never fully recoup the $14.54 million he left on the table by sitting out the 2018 season, he now has the long-term contract he was searching for with the Jets.
While the Steelers do not play the Raiders and WR ANTONIO BROWN this coming season, they do have the Jets, at the Meadowlands, on their 2019 list of opponents.