NFL free agency officially kicks off Wednesday, but teams already are striking deals to re-sign players, and rumors are flowing on the latest news. The legal tampering period begins Monday, which means players can start negotiating with teams then.
We’re tracking every notable free-agent signing, trade and cut of the offseason below, sorted by most recent moves at the top:
Sunday, March 10
The Oakland Raiders have an agreement in principle to trade guard Kelechi Osemele to the New York Jets, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Josina Anderson. Osemele, 29, is scheduled to receive a base salary of $9.7 million in 2019 and $11.2 million in 2020.
The Kelechi Osemele trade tells me the Jets didn’t like the left-guard options on the free-agent market. Otherwise, why give up an asset when they could’ve signed a UFA? The Jets reportedly will send a fifth-round pick to the Raiders, receiving a sixth in return. This will be a brilliant move if Osemele, who will be 30 in June, can revert to the player he was in 2016 and 2017 (two Pro Bowls). His play declined last season as he battled knee and toe injuries. He won’t come cheaply — a non-guaranteed $21.9M over the final two years of his contract. He will replace James Carpenter as the Jets begin to improve Sam Darnold’s supporting cast. Overall, it’s a fairly low-risk move, with a potentially solid return.
The Kansas City Chiefs released four-time Pro-Bowl linebacker Justin Houston on Sunday. The Chiefs had tried to trade Houston, but no team was willing to pick up the $15.25 million base salary he was due this season, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Houston is now a free agent.
Breeland Speaks is the player who stands to benefit the most from Justin Houston’s departure. The Chiefs moved up last year in the second round to draft Speaks in the second round, in part in anticipation of losing either Houston or Dee Ford this year. The Chiefs used Speaks as an outside linebacker in their base 3-4 defense last year but he will be a defensive end in their 4-3 system under new cooordinator Steve Spagnuolo. “Most people and even our organization too, thought his natural fit was more of a 4-3 D-end,” general manager Brett Veach said last month shortly after Spagnuolo was hired.
The Detroit Lions are going to be looking for a new starting cornerback as the club is releasing Nevin Lawson days before the start of the new league year, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Lawson was a consistent, but not flashy, cornerback for the Lions. A fourth-round pick by the Lions in 2014, he played in 62 games for Detroit, starting 54 of them, including being a full-time starter the past three seasons with the club.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have agreed to trade prolific but disgruntled receiver Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a third- and fifth-round pick, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Brown will receive a new three-year deal worth up to $54.125 million from the Raiders, with $30.125 million guaranteed, the source said. He previously had three years and $38.9 million left on his contract with the Steelers, with none of the money guaranteed.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be relieved but probably not elated with the draft haul in the Antonio Brown trade. They sought what GM Kevin Colbert called ‘significant’ compensation and walked away with a third- and a fifth-round pick, which hardly guarantees finding a star receiver to replace Brown. But Pittsburgh’s options were limited by Brown’s contract demands and behavior over the last few months. Many teams dropped out. At least now they can move on with a new era of Steelers football, beginning with the re-signing of Ben Roethlisberger.
Saturday, March 9
It didn’t take long for running back Carlos Hyde to find another job, as he agreed to a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal is for $2.8 million, with $1.6 million being guaranteed, a source told Schefter.
Newly signed Carlos Hyde may fill the RB2 spot occupied at the end of last season by Spencer Ware, who is headed to free agency. But Hyde could eventually claim a significant amount of playing time from Damien Williams, who for now at least is the Chiefs’ main featured back. Hyde at 235 pounds is a big, versatile back of the type favored by general manager Brett Veach. “We certainly like bigger backs,’’ Veach said recently at the NFL combine. “I kind of have a thing for 220-pound backs that can run and catch and block.’’ The Chiefs could also draft a back, though it’s not the necessity it was before the Hyde signing. “When you get into rounds 2 and 3, we have our eyes on a couple of (running backs),’’ Veach said. “Certainly we’d be happy with a few guys.’’
The Dallas Cowboys and Sean Lee have agreed to a restructured contract that will pay the linebacker $3.5 million and give him a chance to earn $7 million in 2019, a source confirmed to ESPN. Lee was set to make a $7 million base salary in the final year of his deal but knew he would have to accept less with Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch taking over starting roles last season.
The Los Angeles Chargers are releasing safety Jahleel Addae, a source told ESPN. Addae signed a four-year, $22 million contract two years ago and had $11.5 million in non-guaranteed compensation left on his deal. The Chargers will save $5.5 million in cash and $5 million against the 2019 salary cap by releasing Addae.
Tight end Dwayne Allen plans to stay in the AFC East, telling ESPN’s Josina Anderson on Saturday that he will sign a two-year contract with the Miami Dolphins. Allen will join the Dolphins after being released by the New England Patriots on Monday in a move that freed up $7.3 million on their salary cap.
The Dolphins agreed to terms with TE Dwayne Allen on a two-year, $7 million contract as ESPN’s Josina Anderson and Adam Schefter reported.
Allen completed three other free agent visits, and chose Miami over other offers. He’ll play a key role in helping Brian Flores establish a new culture in Miami.
Allen, who spent the last two seasons with the New England Patriots, becomes the most experienced and accomplished tight end on the Dolphins roster.
He had three catches for 27 yards in 13 games (eight starts) last season with the Patriots. Allen’s best skillset is as a blocker and he will likely compete with 2018 second-round pick Mike Gesicki for Miami’s starting tight end job.
From ESPN’s Field Yates:
Field Yates explains why the Steelers might want to hold on to Antonio Brown through the start of the new league year.
Friday, March 8
Free-agent running back Carlos Hyde, who was released Friday by the Jaguars, is scheduled to visit Saturday with the Kansas City Chiefs, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Hyde could be a complement to Chiefs running back Damien Williams.
Six-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle plans to sign with the Los Angeles Rams, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The source said Weddle arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday night, spent Friday with the Rams and wants to be a part of the defending NFC champions.
The Rams have signed veteran All-Pro safety Eric Weddle to a two-year deal worth as much as $12.5 million, with $5.25 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Josina Anderson & Dan Graziano. Weddle fills a needed role in the secondary with the pending free agency of Lamarcus Joyner. Weddle, who attended high school in the greater Los Angeles area, was released earlier this week by the Ravens. A 12-year veteran, he is a two-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowl selection.
The Miami Dolphins continued their roster purge by releasing veteran wide receiver Danny Amendola, sources told ESPN, confirming multiple reports. The move will save the Dolphins $6 million in cap space.
The Philadelphia Eagles have informed Michael Bennett that they are planning to trade him to the New England Patriots, the defensive end told ESPN’s Josina Anderson on Friday. The trade is still being finalized, with the Eagles getting a fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft from the Patriots and sending a 2020 seventh-round pick along with Bennett, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Philly.com was first to report that a trade was close to completion.
The Eagles recognized that with a lack of quality pass-rushing options in free agency there could be a trade market for 33-year old Michael Bennett, who is coming off a nine-sack season. They were right, as the Patriots have agreed to deal for him, Adam Schefter and the Philly Inquirer report. Bennett has not been shy about wanting a significant role and may not have received the desired snaps in Philly with Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett coming back.
The Los Angeles Chargers have re-signed linebacker Denzel Perryman to a two-year deal, a source confirms to ESPN. Selected in the second round (48th overall) of the 2015 draft out of Miami, Perryman was an effective player for the Chargers when healthy.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have traded offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert to the Arizona Cardinals, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The source said the Steelers will receive a late sixth-round pick in return.
The Detroit Lions released veteran guard T.J. Lang on Friday with one year left on his contract — ending a question that had lingered throughout the offseason. Lions general manager Bob Quinn said at the NFL scouting combine last week that the team was still deciding on what to do with the former Pro Bowler, whom the team signed to a three-year deal before the 2017 season.
The Lions releasing T.J. Lang does give the franchise a little bit more than $8.5 million more in cap space but it also creates a large hole on the offensive line. Detroit will have some flexibility since both Frank Ragnow and Graham Glasgow can play guard and center, so the club can go after whichever interior offensive linemen they would think fits best in the draft or free agency. And there was little way Detroit could have justified keeping Lang with the $11 million-plus cap hit he would have be on the books for in 2019.
Lang was a smart addition at the time for the Lions and when he was healthy, he was outstanding — including a Pro Bowl appearance. But injuries were the main issue with the Michigan native and the franchise just couldn’t have relied on him again.
When it comes to free agency, this extra money could give Detroit some flexibility to go after a high-level option like Landon Collins or Trey Flowers. Denver center Matt Paradis, Bills guard John Miller, Chiefs center Mitch Morse and Rams guard Rodger Saffold are the best potential offensive line options in free agency.
The Jacksonville Jaguars released five players on Friday, headlined by defensive tackle Malik Jackson, a move that will save the team $30 million. In addition to Jackson, the Jaguars also released safety Tashaun Gipson, running back Carlos Hyde, right tackle Jermey Parnell and long-snapper Carson Tinker. The moves were made, in part, to create salary-cap space to sign a veteran quarterback, expected to be Nick Foles.
The New York Giants have agreed to a trade that will send Pro Bowl outside linebacker Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for right guard Kevin Zeitler, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday. In addition, the Giants will send a fourth-round pick (132nd overall) in the upcoming NFL draft to the Browns for a fifth-round selection (155th overall), a source told ESPN.
The Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers discussed a trade involving star wide receiver Antonio Brown this week but a deal never materialized. “We inquired about Antonio Brown on Tuesday, and kept talks open with the Steelers,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said in a statement Friday.
The dynamics of an Antonio Brown deal: The Steelers believe Brown does not have veto power over a trade, but it is up to potential suitors to understand Brown’s contract demands and whether he wants to show up.
Thursday, March 7
The Denver Broncos have agreed to trade quarterback Case Keenum to the Washington Redskins for a sixth-round pick in the 2020 draft, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday. Washington also will get a 2020 seventh-rounder from Denver. Keenum, who was currently slated to count $21 million against the Broncos’ salary cap for the 2019 season, has reworked his contract and will be on a one-year deal with the Redskins, sources told Schefter.
Last week at the scouting combine Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway made it crystal clear any decision about quarterback Case Keenum — staying a re-worked deal, Keenum’s release or a trade — was going to be based on the finances. And the Broncos got what they believed was the best outcome they could with the framework of the trade with Washington. That said the Broncos will still pay $4 million cash to ship Keenum to the Redskins after he was their starter for just one season.
The Antonio Brown sweepstakes hasn’t stopped the Pittsburgh Steelers from doing big business with their big people. The team has re-signed center Maurkice Pouncey and guard Ramon Foster to multiyear deals, the team announced Thursday. Pouncey will become the NFL’s highest-paid center at $11 million per year over three years, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. A source confirms Foster is signing for two years and is worth $8.25 million.
Veteran wide receiver Pierre Garcon will become a free agent after the San Francisco 49ers passed on his option for 2019, the team announced Thursday. The 49ers opted to take on $7.2 million in dead money rather than carry Garcon’s cap number of $8.275 million. In two seasons with the Niners, Garcon had 64 catches for 786 yards with one touchdown while appearing in 16 games.
The Miami Dolphins are diving headfirst into a rebuild, with the first step being to get cumbersome veteran contracts off the books. They started that process Thursday by releasing defensive end Andre Branch and guard Ted Larsen. The moves will save Miami $9.15 million in salary-cap space.
Multiple teams approached the Chicago Bears at the NFL scouting combine last week to discuss a potential trade for running back Jordan Howard, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday. Howard, 24, finished the regular season on a high note, but questions remain as to whether he is a long-term fit in coach Matt Nagy’s offense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston will have both of his starting tackles back in 2019. Two days after re-signing left tackle Donovan Smith to a three-year contract, the Bucs have exercised the option in the final year of right tackle Demar Dotson‘s contract.
The Baltimore Ravens and tight end Nick Boyle have agreed on a new three-year contract, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano on Thursday. The deal is worth $18 million, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Boyle had been eligible for unrestricted free agency next week and was expected to draw some interest from other teams.
Just re-signed Ravens TE Nick Boyle played 297 snaps (102 more than any other Baltimore TE) during Lamar Jackson’s 8 starts. He blocked on 78% of those plays and was targeted 10 times. With the Ravens behind often against the Chargers in the wild card round, Boyle only played 18 of 59 snaps. He’s a pricey blocking tight end in and offense that wants to run the ball as often as possible.
Wednesday, March 6
Multiple teams inquired about Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen‘s trade availability at the NFL scouting combine last week, two league sources who spoke to the Cardinals told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Cardinals, however, did not give those teams any indication that they are willing to move on from Rosen at this time, the sources told Schefter.
Teams that have spoken to the Pittsburgh Steelers about a potential Antonio Brown trade have been told that a deal is expected to be in place by Friday, league sources tell ESPN. Any trade that is agreed upon can’t be officially announced until Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, when the 2019 league year begins. It is likely Brown will want a restructured contract from any team that acquires him.
The Chicago Bears on Wednesday signed free-agent kicker Chris Blewitt after a tryout. Blewitt has no NFL experience, but he did spend four seasons kicking at the University of Pittsburgh, where he converted 55 of 79 attempts, including a long of 56 yards.
The Cleveland Browns have released linebacker Jamie Collins Sr., the team announced Wednesday. Releasing Collins will cost the Browns only $2.5 million in salary-cap space this season and saves the Browns $9.25 million in cap costs in 2019 and $13.75 million in 2020. Collins had been due to earn $10 million in salary in 2019 and $12 million in 2020.
The Browns choice right now to step in for Jamie Collins would be Genard Avery, who got a lot of time as a rookie after Christian Kirksey was placed on injured reserve. Avery could stand up on early downs, then rush in passing downs. On the free agent market, C.J. Mosley, who played inside for the Ravens, and Anthony Barr (Vikings) seem the most expensive options. Preston Smith of the Redskins is well thought of, and Kwon Alexander played well in Tampa Bay and is on the road to recovery after tearing his ACL in the Bucs win over the Browns in October.
The Denver Broncos, in need of salary-cap space before free agency opens, have informed safety Darian Stewart that he’ll be released. Stewart, who had two years remaining on his four-year extension through 2020, was slated to count $6.37 million against the salary cap in 2019.
Tuesday, March 5
The Baltimore Ravens have cut free safety and defensive leader Eric Weddle. Weddle, who turned 34 in January, reached the Pro Bowl six times, including all three seasons in Baltimore. Considered the quarterback of the NFL’s top-ranked defense, he finished third on the team in tackles with 68.
The Los Angeles Rams have released starting inside linebacker Mark Barron, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday. Barron, who had two seasons remaining on his contract, was sidelined four games to start the 2018 season because of a nagging ankle injury. He finished with 43 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
The Arizona Cardinals are releasing linebacker Josh Bynes, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Bynes, 29, started 11 games for the Cardinals last season before a thumb injury ended his season. He finished with 75 tackles and a career-high two sacks.
The Indianapolis Colts and defensive tackle Margus Hunt agreed to a multiyear contract extension on Tuesday. Terms were not disclosed, but a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Hunt agreed to a two-year, $9 million deal that could be worth up to $10 million with incentives. Hunt was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next week.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and starting left tackle Donovan Smith agreed to a three-year, $41.25 million deal, including $27 million fully guaranteed at signing on Tuesday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The $27 million is guaranteed over the first two years of the deal, a source told ESPN. With the extension, the Bucs were able to lower Smith’s 2019 cap hit from $14.1 million under the franchise tag to $12.5 million. The Bucs now have approximately $3.65 million in salary-cap space.
Cornerback Kevin Johnson, who was drafted 16th overall by the Houston Texans in 2015, was released by the team on Tuesday. Johnson, 26, was scheduled to be paid a base salary of $9.069 million in 2019 on the fifth-year option in his rookie contract. The Texans save that full amount on their salary cap with the move.
The Los Angeles Rams did not exercise the option on veteran center John Sullivan‘s contract, sources told ESPN. Sullivan signed a two-year deal worth up to $10.75 million in 2018. The decision to decline the option on the 33-year-old’s contract will save the Rams $5.5 million in salary cap space, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Monday, March 4
The Philadelphia Eagles are not picking up defensive tackle Tim Jernigan‘s option for 2019, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, allowing him to become a free agent on March 13. This was an expected move, as Jernigan was due a base salary of $11 million and would have cost $13 million against the cap — a hefty price for a player who appeared in just three games last season following offseason surgery to repair a herniated disc.
Dee Ford and Justin Houston combined for 22 sacks last season and 47.5 the past three seasons for the Kansas Chiefs. But it’s possible that neither will play for Kansas City in 2019. The Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Ford on Monday but are listening to trade offers for the outside linebacker and have received interest from multiple teams, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Kansas City is open to bringing Ford back, though, in the event that it does not find a suitable trade partner.
The Atlanta Falcons have placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. General manager Thomas Dimitroff said last week using the tag would be a possibility with the 25-year-old Jarrett as Jarrett heads into his fifth NFL season. Dimitroff has been in talks with Jarrett’s agent, Todd France, regarding a long-term contract extension, yet the sides remain far apart.
The Seattle Seahawks placed the franchise tag on defensive end Frank Clark on Monday, ensuring that Seattle’s top pass-rusher will now stay put through at least the 2019 season. The Seahawks’ announcement that they’ve tagged Clark specifies that it’s the non-exclusive tag, as expected. It means Clark is free to negotiate with other teams. If he were to sign an offer sheet that the Seahawks declined to match, Seattle would be entitled to two first-round picks from the other team.
The Seahawks are using the franchise tag on Frank Clark, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano and others. It means Clark remains under contract for at least another season at a salary of $17.128 million. The two sides can continue to negotiate a long-term deal until July 15. Signing Clark long-term would be beneficial to the Seahawks from a short-term cap standpoint as it would lower Clark’s 2019 cap charge from the $17.128 million. It would also free up the franchise tag for the Seahawks to use it next year on Russell Wilson if they’re unable to sign their quarterback to an extension before then. But with the tag at their disposal in 2019, there was no way the Seahawks were going to let Clark walk. This was the expected move.
Unable to reach an agreement on a long-term deal before the deadline, the Dallas Cowboys on Monday used the franchise-tag designation on Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence for the second consecutive year, a source confirmed. Unlike last year, the Cowboys hope to work out an extension with Lawrence before the July 15 deadline to play the season on the tag.
The next key date in the DeMarcus Lawrence talks is July 15. If he doesn’t have a long-term deal done, then he will have to play the season on the $20.5 million tag. The Cowboys want to get a long-term deal done and there are indications talks will continue. In 2015, the Cowboys worked out a five-year, $70 million deal with Dez Bryant minutes before the July deadline. Bryant took part only sparingly in the offseason program. A source said Lawrence will not take part in any work without a long-term deal after signing the $17.1 million tag quickly in 2018. The last time the Cowboys used the tag in consecutive years on a player came in 2012-13 with outside linebacker Anthony Spencer.
The Philadelphia Eagles and starting left guard Isaac Seumalo agreed to a three-year contract extension on Monday, the team announced. Seumalo, 25, is the second Eagles starting offensive lineman to receive an extension this offseason, joining center Jason Kelce, who agreed to a one-year extension on Saturday that put him under contract through 2021.
The Houston Texans have used their franchise tag on defensive end/outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, the team announced Monday. The team used the non-exclusive franchise designation, meaning a team can sign Clowney to an offer sheet once free agency begins next week but would have to surrender two first-round draft picks if the Texans choose not to match it.
Jadeveon Clowney is listed as a DE/OLB because he plays all over the field for the Texans, but according to ESPN Stats & Info, in 2018 he played 729 snaps at DE, 101 snaps at DT and 33 at LB.
The Tennessee Titans are expected to release safety Johnathan Cyprien sometime this week, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Titans would like Cyprien back, but for less money than the $5.5 million base salary he was scheduled to be paid in 2019.
Sunday, March 3
Barring any last-minute snags, the Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to sign the free-agent quarterback to a multiyear contract when the new league year opens next week, according to sources. The Jaguars are expected to release quarterback Blake Bortles and install Foles as their starter. Jacksonville will have to pay $6.5 million of Bortles’ 2019 salary, which was fully guaranteed when he signed his current contract last year.
The San Francisco 49ers and starting right guard Mike Person have reached agreement on a three-year, $9 million deal that includes $3 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Person was scheduled to become a free agent. The 49ers signed Person late in June of last year with hopes that he could offer some depth and versatility as a backup on the offensive line. As it turned out, Person provided much more than that, starting all 16 games at right guard.
Saturday, March 2
The Kansas City Chiefs are placing their franchise tag on linebacker Dee Ford and plan to have him in their lineup this season, but with the change to a 4-3 defensive scheme, they will listen to trade offers for him, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Chiefs intend to switch their base defensive scheme to a 4-3 under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, which likely would mean a move to defensive end for Ford, who played that position in college before moving to linebacker for Kansas City.
It’s not a surprise that the Chiefs would name LB Dee Ford their franchise player, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported they will. What is a surprise is Schefter’s report that the Chiefs would listen to trade offers for Ford. That suggests the Chiefs are looking to unload either of last season’s two edge rushers, Ford and Justin Houston, and install Breeland Speaks as a starter at defensive end in their new 4-3 base scheme. The Chiefs drafted Speaks in the second round last year.
The Atlanta Falcons and backup quarterback Matt Schaub have agreed to a two-year contract extension, the team announced Saturday. Schaub, who turns 38 in June, signed to be Matt Ryan‘s backup prior to the 2016 season. He has played in seven games over the past three seasons, completing 6 of 10 passes for 36 yards.
Despite some end-of-season speculation that he could retire this offseason, Eagles center Jason Kelce has reached an agreement on a one-year contract extension that ties him to Philadelphia through 2021. According to sources, the extension adds $11 million in new money. Kelce had two years remaining on a seven-year contract he signed in 2014.
Jason Kelce said the Eagles originally approached him about a restructure during the season. He had a difficult year because of injury and, now 31, took some time to ponder future before deciding not to retire. The move gives him a bump in pay and frees up cap space for Eagles.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are attempting to trade running back Carlos Hyde and defensive tackle Malik Jackson, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Hyde was traded to the Jaguars by the Cleveland Browns last season, and he rushed for 189 yards on 58 carries in eight games with Jacksonville. Jackson has been in Jacksonville since 2016 after signing a six-year contract worth up to $90 million. He has totaled 18 sacks over the past three seasons.
Friday, March 1
The Detroit Lions had to make a potential restricted free-agency decision on defensive end Romeo Okwara. On Friday, the team bypassed all of that, signing him to a new, two-year deal instead. Okwara, 23, was a massive find for Detroit last season after he was claimed off waivers following his release by the Giants during the cutdown churn in September. He started 14 games for the Lions and led the franchise with 7.5 sacks.
Teams that have communicated with the New York Giants are under the impression they are trying to trade outside linebacker Olivier Vernon, sources told ESPN. Vernon is set to make $15.5 million this season. His current deal has two years and $31 million remaining.
Olivier Vernon is a contract from the old regime, when the Giants signed him to play as a defensive end in a 4-3 base. They played a 3-4 more frequently last year, and while Vernon was quietly great to end the season — he had six sacks and 13 knockdowns over his final five games — it’s not a surprise that the Giants would look to shed his $19.5 million cap hold. They can create $11.5 million by trading or releasing Vernon, and while they’ll unquestionably look for a trade partner, the two years and $31 million left on Vernon’s deal suggest the latter is more likely to happen.
The Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to terms on a three-year extension with defensive end Brandon Graham, the team announced Friday. The new deal, which will keep Graham with the Eagles through the 2021 season, is worth $40 million, a source told ESPN’s Tim McManus.
Thursday, Feb. 28
Jason Witten is returning to the Dallas Cowboys, the team announced Thursday. Witten is leaving ESPN’s Monday Night Football and returning to the playing field less than a year after announcing his retirement. Sources told ESPN that the tight end is getting a one-year deal worth $3.5 million that can max out at $5 million, including roster bonuses and incentives.
After making a stunning return to the NFL, Jason Witten will have a role to play in the Cowboys offense. Dak Prescott ranked 27th in passer rating on throws between the hashes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage last year. The 36-year-old tight end was last in yards per reception among regular tight ends during the final three seasons of his pro career before retiring, but Witten caught more than 70 percent of his targets over each of those seasons. Witten’s one-year, $3.5-million deal gives the Cowboys a safe pair of hands and a very reasonably-paid solution at a position of need for many teams around the NFL.
Wednesday, Feb. 27
One year after making a blockbuster trade to move up in the draft, the New York Jets are willing to go in reverse if the price is right. General manager Mike Maccagnan, speaking to reporters Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine, put a “for sale” sign on the Jets’ pick, third overall.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Marcell Dareus have agreed to a restructured contract that will keep the nose tackle with the team next season. The deal clears $5 million in cap space for the Jaguars and lowers Dareus’ base salary from $8.335 million in 2019, sources told ESPN’s Field Yates. Dareus was scheduled to earn a $2 million roster bonus on March 15 but now gets a $5 million bonus immediately. The restructured contract runs through the 2020 season, eliminating the final year of the old contract.
Tuesday, Feb. 26
Kicker Robbie Gould, one of the first free agents signed by the San Francisco 49ers when coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch took over in 2017, will be around for at least one more season after he received the team’s franchise tag on Tuesday.
The Dallas Cowboys have made their first offer to defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and executive vice president Stephen Jones is hopeful that a long-term deal can be reached with the Pro Bowl defensive end. “I’m confident we’ll get a deal done,” Jones said in a break between competition committee meetings in Indianapolis. “I don’t know the timing, but I’m very confident we can get a deal done. Everybody’s on the record, from Jerry [Jones] to myself to Jason Garrett to Will [McClay], on what we think of D-Law.”
Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn put to rest speculation about the roster status of pass-rusher Vic Beasley Jr., telling ESPN that keeping Beasley for the 2019 season is “the plan right now.” “I’m very excited about where I think he can go to, and we’ve had good conversations about the impact that he can make,” Quinn said of Beasley, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft and the 2016 NFL sack champion. “The biggest impact that he can make is doing it really consistently.”
Monday, Feb. 25
Greg Robinson has re-signed with the Cleveland Browns, the team announced Monday. His agents had earlier announced a deal had been agreed upon. Terms were not disclosed. Robinson’s career was hanging by a thread when the Browns signed the former No. 2 overall pick to a one-year deal shortly after the team’s minicamp in June.