The NFL is considering a plan to improve draft picks for teams that hire minority candidates as either coaches or general managers, sources confirmed to ESPN.
Under the plan, a team would improve its third-round pick by 10 spots for hiring a minority candidate as general manager (or equivalent-level position) and six spots for hiring a minority candidate as head coach, according to NFL.com, which first reported on the proposal. The draft boosts could stack, allowing a team to move up 16 spots altogether.
Retaining minority coaches and general managers would be rewarded as well. According to NFL.com, a team would move up five spots in the fourth round if its coach or general manager was entering their third year on the job. A quarterback coach hire would earn a fourth-round compensatory pick if they are retained for one year.
Teams would also receive draft compensation for losing minority candidates to other teams, according to the report. A minority candidate leaving to become a head coach or general manager would be worth a third-round compensatory pick, while a coordinator hire would garner a fifth-round pick for the former team.
This proposal was submitted by the league's diversity committee and is expected to be addressed during a virtual meeting Tuesday, a league source confirmed. It would need 24 of 32 votes in favor to pass.
Asked about the proposal, the NFL declined to comment to NFL.com. But a league source told ESPN's Dan Graziano that commissioner Roger Goodell is in favor of the proposals.
During this offseason, only one head coach hired -- the Washington Redskins' Ron Rivera -- was a minority candidate. Only three of the past 20 head-coaching hires were minorities, and there are currently four black head coaches in the league.
Only two of the NFL's 32 general managers are minorities.
The NFL has the Rooney Rule, which requires every team to interview a qualified minority candidate for head-coaching jobs, but it does not affect the hiring decisions of owners.
Therefore, according to a league source, the NFL is also considering requiring multiple interviews of minority candidates for head-coaching positions and expanding the Rooney Rule to include coordinator positions.
The league will also consider removing a rule that allows teams to block assistant coaches from interviewing for other teams' coordinator positions, a league source told ESPN.
The rest of Tuesday's agenda is likely to include a focus on health and safety measures as well as reopening procedures. The league is still operating under the guideline that, until every team can have its coaches and players in its facility, no team can reopen. But teams may be able to open their buildings to administrative staff depending on local guidelines.
Since they don't have OTAs to get ready for, some players are taking on off season jobs to help make ends meet.
The Miramar, Florida, police department announced on social media it has issued arrest warrants for Giants cornerback Deandre Baker and Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar.
Baker faces four counts of armed robbery with a firearm and four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. Dunbar faces four counts of armed robbery with a firearm.
The players attended a party at a private residence Wednesday night when an argument ensued, and Baker drew a semi-automatic firearm, according to the arrest affidavit. With Baker directing, Dunbar helped collect more than $11,000 in cash, an $18,000 Rolex watch, a $25,000 Hublot watch, a $17,500 Audemars Piguet watch and other valuables from partygoers.
At one point, Baker ordered another armed man in a red mask to shoot someone who walked into the party. The armed man did not comply. There are conflicting witness statements about whether Dunbar had a gun or not.
Vehicles were pre-positioned to expedite an immediate exit.
Baker and Dunbar “lost” about $70,000 two nights earlier at a different party in Miami, and TMZ.com reports the losses were from gambling.
The NFL and Giants both said they were aware of the matter, per NFL Media.
Baker, 22, started 15 games after the Giants made him the 30th overall selection in 2019. Dunbar, 27, started 11 games in his fifth NFL season in 2019.
Washington traded Dunbar to Seattle in March, and he participated in a conference call with Seahawks beat reporters earlier Thursday before news of the arrest warrant broke.
How's everyone holding up with the lack of sports and being stuck at home? I'm an essential worker, so I get out of the house for that. My wife has assigned me many honey-do projects while we are all trapped in the house.
Dak Prescott will eventually sign his Franchise tag papers. Dak Prescott is going to be paid a LOT of money because of that tag. I am not sure of the exact figure, but it should be over $30 million.
I came across this meme, and am curious about the honest opinions from our resident Cowboys fans. Is this meme accurate? Does it understate how good of a job Dak Prescott has actually done? Personally, as an outsider to Cowboys fandom, I think Dak Prescott is a good enough QB that if you get the weapons around him, he can be a very successful NFL QB. But what about Cowboys fans? Is Andy Dalton there to be just an experienced backup, or is he a legitimate threat to Dak's starting job?
Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas had a gun held to his head by his wife after she caught him cheating in an incident last month, according to a report from TMZ.
Per the police report acquired by TMZ, Thomas’ wife, Nina, confronted him and his brother, Seth, after tracking him to a rental home via his Snapchat account. Thomas had left home after a disagreement over his drinking earlier in the day. His wife then logged into his social media account and found video of Thomas with another woman and left to confront him.
When police arrived to the scene of the disturbance, Thomas, having gained possession of the handgun, was being chased around the vehicle by his wife, who was at that point wielding a knife.
Nina Thomas told police she had called two other women to help her confront Thomas, and that she took Earl’s handgun with an intent to “scare him.” She had taken the magazine out of the gun, but she was unaware of a round in the chamber.
Earl Thomas made an Instagram post shortly before the release of the TMZ report, indicating he had received notice from his agent that the item would be published Thursday morning. The story was presumably released once Thomas made his own statement about the incident.
“So my agent just hit me and said that I’m going to be on TMZ tomorrow from an altercation that happened with me and Nina,” Thomas said. “So I just wanted to get ahead of it. I mean, it’s really not anybody’s business. It’s pissing me off that it got out but it’s the world we live in today. Instead of talking about it, just keep us in y’all’s prayers. Stuff like this happens, bro. We try to live the best lives we possibly can but sometimes it don’t go as planned. Just pray for us as we go through this stuff. We’ve back talking. I’m seeing my kids so just keep us in your prayers.”
Earl Thomas wrestled the gun away from his wife before any accidents could have happened. The report says Nina Thomas struck Earl in the nose in video that was recorded during the incident
Nina Thomas and the two other women involved were both arrested for their actions. She was booked for burglary of a residence with intent to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon/family violence.
The 2020 NFL All-Paid Team is a collection of the highest-paid players in the league at each position. It's essentially an All-Pro team, but the pocketbook supersedes pedigree and production for the day.
Average per year (APY) is the most accepted measure of comparison for player contracts, so it's what will be used for our purposes. Also, players who received the franchise tag are ineligible, due to the fixed nature of their salaries.
If you need help understanding any of the terms in this article, please refer to our Free Agency and Contract Glossary.
NOTES: All contract information is from Over The Cap and/or Spotrac. Only long-term contracts were considered (three seasons or longer). Cap percentages are based on this year's league-wide cap of $198.2 million.
* denotes player was a member of the 2019 All-Paid Team of Tomorrow.
Before we get into the offense, defense and special teams, let's break down the numbers:
Total seasons: 105
Total combined value: $1.805 billion
Average per year: $17.2 million
Total full guarantees: $791.55 million
Total combined 2020 APY: $412.67 million
Total combined 2020 cap hit: $335.03 million
Total combined 2020 cash: $389.1 million
Quarterback: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks ($35 million APY)*
Full contract: Four-year, $140 million extension | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $70 million (50.0 percent)
2020 cap hit: $31 million (15.6 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $53 million
Russell Wilson makes a lot of chicken salad in Seattle. Until the next wave of quarterback contracts hit the market (looking at you, Dak and Pat), Wilson is, deservedly, the highest-paid player at the position. The Seahawks QB will earn $53 million in cash this season, due in large part to a $35 million salary bonus deferment.
Wilson has led the Seahawks to 10-plus wins in seven of his eight pro seasons, the most to start a career in NFL history. He's thrown 20 or more passing touchdowns in all eight of those campaigns, a feat only matched by Dan Marino and Peyton Manning.
Wilson is also at the peak of his brilliance. The NFL's best off-script player led a league-high five game-winning drives in 2019, while throwing 31 touchdown passes against just five interceptions. Prior to Wilson, Tom Brady (2010), Aaron Rodgers (2014) and Drew Brees (2018) are the only players to put together a season with 30-plus pass touchdowns and five or fewer interceptions in NFL history.
Running back: Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers ($16 million APY)
Full contract: Four-year, $64.1 million extension | Signed: 2020
Guaranteed at signing: $30.1 million (46.9 percent)
2020 cap hit: $7.8 million (3.9 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $22.3 million
To describe Christian McCaffrey in one word: versatility. In one statistic? He is the only player in NFL history with 2,500-plus rushing and receiving yards in his first three seasons.
However, when it comes to numbers, the ways to cut it are limitless for Run CMC. In 2019, he became the third player in NFL history with 1,000-plus rushing and receiving yards in a single season, while finishing with the third-most single-season scrimmage yards in NFL history (2,392).
Not only does he have the first- and second-most receptions by a running back in a single season in NFL history, but only All-World wide receivers Michael Thomas (378) and DeAndre Hopkins (315) have more receptions than McCaffrey (303) since he was drafted eighth overall in 2017. McCaffrey does more than catch passes and make people miss, though. He tied for the NFL lead with 10 rushing touchdowns inside the tackles, per Next Gen Stats.
McCaffrey is now slated to be in Carolina through the 2025 season. Players at his position, like 2017 draftmate Alvin Kamara, are understandably encouraged by the move in the running back market.
NOTE: Ezekiel Elliott, who made the 2019 All-Paid Team of Tomorrow, held this top spot with his six-year, $90 million deal from 2019 until McCaffrey signed his new deal in April.
Wide receiver: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons ($22 million APY)*
Full contract: Three-year, $66 million extension | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $64 million (96.7 percent)
2020 cap hit: $20.4 million (10.3 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $22.2 million
Outlier. Oddity. Anomaly. Aberration. Julio Jones.
Jones is the only player in NFL history to average more than 90 receiving yards per game. The 2019 campaign marked Jones' sixth-straight season with 1,300-plus receiving yards. With another, Jones would tie Jerry Rice for the most such seasons all-time.
The Falcons sold the farm to move up to No. 6 overall to select Jones in the 2011 NFL Draft. It's very possible they didn't give up enough. Since arriving in Atlanta, Jones has been as automatic as his money: $64 million of his $66 million extension is fully guaranteed at signing. These full guarantees are the most in any current wide receiver contract.
Wide receiver: Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys ($20 million APY)
Full contract: Five years, $100 million | Signed: 2020
Guaranteed at signing: $40 million (40.0 percent)
2020 cap hit: $22 million (11.1 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $20 million
Since joining the Cowboys in Week 9 of the 2018 season, Amari Cooper ranks fifth in receiving yards (1,914) and is tied for the NFL lead in receiving touchdowns (14). The Miami, Florida, native has made himself at home in Dallas, averaging 109.2 receiving yards per game in AT&T Stadium, the most by any player in any stadium since the 1970 NFL merger (min. 10 games).
Cooper's greatest value remains his impact on quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott averages 1.1 more yards per pass attempt and has a passer rating almost 10 points higher with Cooper on the field since 2018. Prescott recorded a league-high 133.5 passer rating when targeting Cooper on deep passes last season, per Next Gen Stats (min. 15 targets of 20-plus air yards).
Cooper hauled in a $100 million deal in March to remain with the team that traded a first-round pick to acquire his services. It's the first $100 million deal for a wide receiver since Larry Fitzgerald (2011) and Calvin Johnson (2012) hit the mark on seven-year agreements. Cooper's contract is as simple as simple gets: He makes $20 million in cash in each of its five seasons.
Wide receiver: Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints ($19.25 million APY)*
Full contract: Five-year, $96.25 million extension | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $35.6 million (37.0 percent)
2020 cap hit: $7 million (3.5 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $11 million
Michael Thomas has been ballin' in the Bayou since Day 1. No player has had more success faster at the receiver position: He's pulled in the most receptions (470) and receiving yards (5,512) in a player's first four seasons in NFL history. As far-fetched as this next fact seems, it's true: Thomas needs just 12 receptions next season to set the NFL record for the most receptions in a player's first five seasons (481, Jarvis Landry).
The Saints signed Thomas to his extension prior to the 2019 season and received immediate returns on their investment. Just months after cashing in, Thomas caught more passes (149) in a single season than any player in NFL history (he also led the league in receptions for the second straight year).
His $7 million cap hit in 2020 allowed the Saints more roster flexibility this season, but that number rises to $18.8 million in 2021 and $20 million-plus in each of the next three years.
Tight end: Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns ($10.5 million APY)
Full contract: Four years, $42 million | Signed: 2020
Guaranteed at signing: $18.5 million (44.0 percent)
2020 cap hit: $4 million (2.0 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $11.5 million
The tight end market has been soft for some time. Prior to Austin Hooper's deal with the Browns, Jimmy Graham had been the NFL's highest-paid tight end since 2014, on three different teams for that matter. Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz both signed extensions in 2016, prior to establishing themselves as elite players at the position. This will all change soon when George Kittle eventually signs an extension with the 49ers.
Hooper received the most fully guaranteed money ($18.5 million) of any active veteran tight end contract when he signed with Cleveland -- the benefit of being the lone quality tight end on the market. In 2019, he ranked in the top six at his position in receptions (75), receiving yards (787) and receiving touchdowns (6) and graded out as a top-10 TE by PFF. Adding Hooper to an already talented Browns skill-position group should only help Baker Mayfield get out of his sophomore slump.
NOTE: Hunter Henry will earn $10.6 million with the L.A. Chargers in 2020 on the non-exclusive franchise tag.
Left tackle: Laremy Tunsil, Houston Texans ($22 million APY)
Full contract: Three-year, $66.0 million extension | Signed: 2020
Guaranteed at signing: $40 million (60.6 percent)
2020 cap hit: $14.1 million (7.1 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $23.85 million
The Texans committed to Laremy Tunsil as their left tackle of the future when they sent two first-round picks and a second-round pick to the Dolphins in the deal to acquire him in August 2019. Tunsil then took the top off the offensive line market when he signed his new extension during the 2020 NFL Draft.
His $22 million APY is $4 million more than the next highest-paid player at the position (Eagles RT Lane Johnson). Tunsil also set new marks for guarantees ($57.9 million) and full guarantees ($40 million) among offensive linemen.
Tunsil had an 89.0 pass-blocking grade from PFF in 2019, the third-highest among all offensive tackles. Tunsil is due to become a free agent in 2024 at 30 years old, which should put him in line to sign another lucrative contract while still on the backend of his prime.
Left guard: Andrew Norwell, Jacksonville Jaguars ($13.3 million APY)
Full contract: Five years, $66.5 million | Signed: 2018
Guaranteed at signing: $30 million (45.1 percent)
2020 cap hit: $12 million (6.1 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $9 million
The Jaguars made 2017 first-team All-Pro Andrew Norwell the NFL's highest-paid left guard in 2018. Since putting pen to paper, Norwell has been PFF's 30th-ranked player at the position. Although all of Norwell's $30 million in full guarantees were in the first two seasons, the Jaguars decided to keep Norwell for 2020. The team did, however, restructure his contract in April, reducing his base salary from $11.5 million to $9 million, converting the difference into incentives.
NOTE: Joe Thuney will earn $14.8 million with New England in 2020 on the non-exclusive franchise tag.
Center: Rodney Hudson, Las Vegas Raiders ($11.25 million APY)
Full contract: Three-year, $33.75 million extension | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $8.25 million (24.4 percent)
2020 cap hit: $14.4 million (7.3 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $13 million
Derek Carr surely appreciates the Raiders appropriately compensating Rodney Hudson, who had the highest PFF pass protection grade (91.2) among all centers last season. On his second multi-year extension, Hudson has made the Pro Bowl in three of his last four seasons. The Raiders restructured Hudson's contract in March, converting $11.6 million of his 2020 base salary into a signing bonus and adding two additional seasons to the contract to maximize proration over five years. The restructure cleared $9.28 million in cap space for Las Vegas in 2020.
Right guard: Brandon Brooks, Philadelphia Eagles ($14.1 million APY)
Full contract: Four-year, $56.4 million extension | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $4.9 million (8.7 percent)
2020 cap hit: $7.8 million (3.9 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $10.75 million
Brandon Brooks suffered a serious injury after Christmas for the second straight year, though we've seen him bounce back with vigor before. Coming off a torn Achilles suffered in the 2018 Divisional Round, Brooks earned the highest overall grade (92.9) by an offensive lineman in 2019, per PFF. His $4.9 million in fully guaranteed money was disproportionate to the contract he signed. He earned an $8.4 million option bonus this March, which also added an extra season to his contract (2024).
NOTE: Brandon Scherff will earn $15 million with Washington in 2020 on the non-exclusive franchise tag.
Right tackle: Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles ($18 million APY)
Full contract: Four-year, $72 million extension | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $25 million (34.7 percent)
2020 cap hit: $15.9 million (8.0 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $12.4 million
Another highly decorated offensive lineman on the All-Paid Team, Lane Johnson earned his third Pro Bowl nod in 2019. Much like his offensive line neighbor Brooks, Johnson did his best work in the run game last season: His 92.6 run block grade by PFF led all offensive linemen. The right side was once seen as the lesser of the two tackle positions, but Johnson nonetheless became the NFL's highest-paid offensive lineman in 2019 (his APY now ranks second to Laremy Tunsil's $22 million).
Interior defensive line: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams ($22.5 million APY)
Full contract: Six-year, $135 million extension | Signed: 2018
Guaranteed at signing: $50 million (37.0 percent)
2020 cap hit: $25 million (12.6 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $17 million
Is there a more dominant player in the NFL than Aaron Donald? No. And his paycheck corresponds with his dominance. Pick a season. 2016? '17? '18? '19? The NFL's first $20 million defender was PFF's highest-graded defensive player in each of them (min. 50 snaps). Recently retired Panthers LB Luke Kuechly barely edged out Donald for the spot in 2015.
Donald's been a Pro Bowler in each of his six seasons, a first-team All-Pro in five straight seasons and he's a two-time Defensive Player of the Year. It's almost absurd to think about his production from the interior defensive line, but here are some stats to highlight: Donald has 72 sacks since entering the NFL in 2014, second-most to only Chandler Jones (78.5). His 173 QB hits and 117 tackles for loss are the most in the league since then. Donald has done nothing but continue to wreak havoc on offenses since signing his extension in 2018.
Interior defensive line: DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis Colts ($21 million APY)*
Full contract: Four-year, $84 million extension | Signed: 2020
Guaranteed at signing: $39.4 million (46.9 percent)
2020 cap hit: $23.4 million (11.8 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $23.4 million
After shipping the 13th overall pick in the 2020 draft to the 49ers to acquire Buckner, the Colts immediately signed the defensive lineman to an $84 million extension worth $21 million per season over four years. The 49ers moved Buckner, who was entering the last year of his contract, after deciding not to commit to keeping both him and impending free agent (and fellow Oregon alum) Arik Armstead long-term. So they signed Armstead at a lower APY ($17 million) and picked up a valuable draft asset for Buckner.
It may ultimately prove to have been a shrewd move, but the Niners' decision cost them one of the anchors to their NFC-winning defense. Buckner led the 49ers in sacks, QB hits and tackles for loss over his four seasons with the team. Since the start of his 2018 Pro Bowl campaign, Bucker has more sacks (19.5) than any interior defensive lineman not named Aaron Donald (33.0) or Chris Jones (24.5).
Edge: Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears ($23.5 million APY)
Full contract: Six-year, $141 million extension | Signed: 2018
Guaranteed at signing: $60 million (42.6 percent)
2020 cap hit: $26.6 million (18.9 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $17.2 million
Matt Ryan still boasts the largest contract in the NFL in terms of total value ($150 million) despite signing the extension two years ago. The runner-up? Khalil Mack at $141 million. Soon after Aaron Donald set the record for a defensive player with a $135 million deal, Mack took the market to new heights. Just seven quarterbacks have more total guarantees ($90 million) than the three-time All-Pro. Only Jared Goff, Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott (franchise tag) have a higher 2020 cap charge than Mack's $26.6 million.
By PFF metrics, Mack had one of the worst seasons of his remarkable career in 2019. He turned in his lowest pass rush grade since his rookie season in 2014 -- illustrated by the fewest sacks (8.5) and QB hits (14) since Year 1, as well as the lowest run defense grade of his career. And yet, Mack is one of just four players with 8-plus sacks in each of the last five seasons (Von Miller, Chandler Jones and Donald).
Edge: DeMarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys ($21 million APY)
Full contract: Five-year, $105 million extension | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $48 million (45.7 percent)
2020 cap hit: $21.9 million (11.0 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $16.9 million
Coming off the first two double-digit-sack seasons and Pro Bowl nods of his career, Lawrence signed a five-year pact that gained him admittance to the $20-million-a-year club. In his first season under the deal (2019), Lawrence had his fewest sacks (5.0), tackles for loss (10) and quarterback hits (16) since his breakout 2017 season.
Outside of Dak Prescott's franchise tag, Lawrence is the Cowboys' highest-paid player. One-year rental Robert Quinn led the team in all major pass-rush categories last season before departing to Chicago in free agency this March, although Lawrence was still a top-15 edge player, according to PFF.
Linebacker: Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks ($18 million APY)*
Full contract: Three-year, $54 million extension | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $24.5 million (45.4 percent)
2020 cap hit: $14.8 million (7.4 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $11 million
C.J. Mosley, a four-time Pro Bowler but never a first-team All-Pro, pushed the linebacker market up by $4.6 million per season ($17 million APY) in March 2019, surprising many around the league at the time, including his coach, Adam Gase. But order was restored just a few months later when the best player at the position, Bobby Wagner, signed a three-year extension worth $18 million per.
Wagner has the most tackles of any active player in the NFL (1,073), while he and Aaron Donald are the only players to earn first-team All-Pro honors in five of the last six seasons. There are just nine linebackers with more such selections than Wagner (5) in NFL history -- each is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Wagner's hefty dead cap impact in 2020 ($22 million) drops dramatically to just $7.5 million in 2021, meaning the Seahawks could soon get out of this deal should the linebacker experience any dramatic decline in skill ... not that we've seen any signs of that happening.
Linebacker: C.J. Mosley, New York Jets ($17 million APY)
Full contract: Five years, $85 million | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $43 million (50.6 percent)
2020 cap hit: $17.5 million (8.8 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $16 million
His contract set a new bar for off-the-ball linebackers in terms of both total guarantees ($51 million) and full guarantees ($43 million). It was Mosley's deal that set the precedent for Wagner's.
After making the Pro Bowl in four of his first five seasons with the Ravens, Mosley missed 14 games in Year 1 with Gang Green. However, Mosley did land a pick-six and a fumble recovery in limited action. A healthy Mosley should help boost a Jets team that had the seventh-best total defense in the NFL last season despite his absence.
Cornerback: Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles ($16.7 million APY)
Full contract: Three-year, $50 million extension | Signed: 2020
Guaranteed at signing: $26.1 million (52.1 percent)
2020 cap hit: $4.3 million (2.2 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $14.1 million
After parting with third- and fifth-round picks in March for his services, the Eagles made Big Play Slay the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, in terms of APY.
Over the last three seasons, Slay leads the NFL with 56 passes defensed, is tied for second with 13 interceptions and has three Pro Bowl nods. At times, Slay appears to run better routes than the receivers he's mirroring.
Maybe more comforting for Eagles fans is Slay's play against a division rival: The eighth-year corner allowed just 3 receptions for 38 yards while mirroring Amari Cooper on 87.5 percent of his routes in a Week 11 matchup last season, per PFF. One of those receptions was this close to being an interception.
Cornerback: Byron Jones, Miami Dolphins ($16.5 million APY)*
Full contract: Five years, $82.5 million | Signed: 2020
Guaranteed at signing: $46 million (55.8 percent)
2020 cap hit: $14 million (7.1 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $26 million
Byron Jones played safety for two of his first three seasons in the NFL. In 2018, he returned to his more familiar cornerback position and earned his first Pro Bowl selection. After playing out his fifth-year option in Dallas, the Dolphins offered Jones $82.5 million over five seasons to take his talents to South Beach.
The athletic wonder, who set a world record for the broad jump at the 2015 NFL Combine, has an 85.1 PFF coverage grade since making the transition back to the position in 2018, the seventh-highest among cornerbacks with at least 200 snaps.
The knock against Jones has always been his lack of ball production, which could be attributed to opponents staying away from him. He has just two career interceptions in five seasons and none in his last two. Despite their importance, takeaways aren't always the best measure of a cornerback's ability. Jones owns the fourth-highest forced incompletion percentage (18.9%) and the seventh-lowest completion percentage allowed (54.9%) of any player in the NFL since 2018, per PFF (min. 100 targets).
Cornerback: Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins ($15.1 million APY)*
Full contract: Five-year, $75.25 million extension | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $27.2 million (36.1 percent)
2020 cap hit: $13.3 million (6.7 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $11.9 million
Xavien Howard joins Byron Jones to give the Dolphins the most expensive cornerback pairing in the NFL. At a combined $31.6 million APY and $157.75 million in total value, the Dolphins must expect immediate dividends from the duo.
Howard is looking to bounce back in a big way after missing 11 games in 2019 to a knee injury. He and Jones each made their first Pro Bowl following the 2018 campaign, a season that saw the former lead the NFL with 7 interceptions in just 12 games (knee injury). Howard was arrested in December for a charge that has since been dropped, but it is unclear if the incident will lead to discipline entering the 2020 season.
Safety: Eddie Jackson, Chicago Bears ($14.6 million APY)*
Full contract: Four-year, $58.4 million extension | Signed: 2020
Guaranteed at signing: $22 million (37.7 percent)
2020 cap hit: $3.7 million (1.9 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $13.2 million
Eddie Jackson's pockets got deeper this offseason after he signed an extension that boosted him into the No. 1 safety spot on this team. A fourth-round steal in 2017, Jackson has proven to be one of the Bears' best players regardless of position.
BoJack, as he's known, regularly finds his name in the box score; he has 10 interceptions, four forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and five defensive touchdowns over his first three seasons. He's made two consecutive Pro Bowls and has a 93.4 PFF coverage grade over that span (second in the NFL, min. 25 snaps). His production took a slight dip this past season, as the Bears defense regressed as a whole, but Jackson remains one of the NFL's most adept coverage players on the backend.
Safety: Kevin Byard, Tennessee Titans ($14.1 million APY)*
Full contract: Five-year, $70.5 million extension | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $19.6 million (27.8 percent)
2020 cap hit: $10.9 million (5.5 percent of 2020 salary cap) | 2020 cash: $9.1 million
Prior to Eddie Jackson's extension, Kevin Byard was the NFL's highest-paid safety. A Middle Tennessee State alum, Byard has started every game for the Titans since Week 10 of his rookie season in 2016. The defender broke out during the 2017 season, earning first-team All-Pro honors and leading the NFL with eight interceptions.
He's continued to excel since. Byard is the only player in the NFL with four or more interceptions in each of the last three seasons, and his 17 interceptions over that span are four more than any other player. He also leads all safeties with 33 passes defensed. Byard is more than a coverage safety; he's earned PFF's second-best run defense grade at his position over the same timeframe.
Kicker: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens ($5 million APY)
Full contract: Four-year, $20 million extension | Signed: 2019
Guaranteed at signing: $12.5 million (62.5 percent)
2020 cap hit: $5.1 million (2.6 percent) | 2020 cash: $3.5 million
Justin Tucker is the most accurate kicker in NFL history (90.8 percent) and has made the Pro Bowl in three of the last four seasons. The Ravens rightfully made him the NFL's highest-paid player at his position.
Punter: Thomas Morstead, New Orleans Saints ($3.9 million APY)
Full contract: Four-year, $15.9 million extension | Signed: 2018
Guaranteed at signing: $8.9 million (55.9 percent)
2020 cap hit: $4.3 million (2.2 percent) | 2020 cash: $3.3 million
The reigning highest-paid punter in the NFL is back for his second run at the top of the pay scale after finishing among the top five in net punting average last season (43.1). The Saints have punted 103 times over the last two seasons, the third-fewest in the league.
Don Shula, the NFL's most winningest coach who led the Miami Dolphins to the league's only undefeated season, died Monday at the age of 90.
The Dolphins issued a statement saying that Shula died "peacefully at his home."
"Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years," it read. "He brought the winning edge to our franchise and put the Dolphins and the city of Miami in the national sports scene. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Mary Anne along with his children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike."
Shula won an NFL-record 347 games (including playoffs). He coached the Dolphins (17-0) to the league's only undefeated season in 1972, culminating in a 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
The Dolphins repeated as champions the next season, beating the Minnesota Vikings 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII, the third straight title game had Miami played in; the Dolphins lost 24-3 to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI.
In all, Shula guided the Dolphins to five Super Bowls, including losses to the Redskins (27-17 in Super Bowl XVII) and San Francisco 49ers (38-16 in Super Bowl XIX).
Before coming to Miami, Shula coached the Baltimore Colts, who made him the then-youngest NFL coach when they hired him at age 33. He led the Colts to Super Bowl III, the first title game to have "Super Bowl" in its name. Baltimore lost 16-7 to quarterback Joe Namath and New York Jets, who became the first AFL team to win an NFL championship.
By the time he resigned as Dolphins coach after the 1995 season, Shula had been an NFL head coach for 33 seasons (26 with Miami). Only two of his Dolphins teams finished below .500 during those 26 seasons. He finished with an overall coaching record of 347-173-6 (73-26-4 with Baltimore).
Shula was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. He and George Halas are the only coaches in NFL history to win more than 300 games.
Shula also played seven seasons as a defensive back in the NFL after being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the ninth round (110th overall) of the 1951 draft after playing collegiately at John Carroll University in Cleveland. He had 21 career interceptions in seven NFL seasons for Cleveland (1951-52), Baltimore (1953-56) and Washington (1957).
Both of Shula's sons followed him into the NFL coaching ranks. Mike Shula is the quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos and David Shula was the Cincinnati Bengals' head coach from 1992 to 1996. He also played one season with Baltimore (1981).
The rivalry between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers extended into the late seventh round of this year's NFL draft.
Coach Sean Payton gave a behind-the-scenes breakdown to The Athletic of how the Saints decided to swoop in and draft quarterback/flex player Tommy Stevens before he had the chance to sign with Carolina as an undrafted free agent.
"There's no way I was going to lose this kid," Payton said of the former Mississippi State and Penn State quarterback who was often compared to the Saints' versatile Taysom Hill leading up to the draft.
"We know the role. We invented the role."
The Saints originally did not have a seventh-round pick. In fact, they didn't have any picks in Rounds 4-7 after trading up to select Dayton tight end Adam Trautman at the end of Round 3.
So they spent most of their Saturday trying to identify and recruit the undrafted rookies they wanted to sign. Stevens was high on their priority list. He became even more of a priority once they found out Stevens had agreed to join the Panthers if he wasn't drafted.
Stevens had previously worked with new Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady when Brady was a graduate assistant at Penn State. And Brady, of course, used to work as an offensive assistant with the Saints -- which added to the intrigue of this bidding war.
"It became my project," said Payton, who said the Saints first offered to match Carolina's offer (a $15,000 signing bonus and $30,000 of Stevens' salary guaranteed).
Then Payton said the Saints tried upping the offer to $144,000 of the salary guaranteed. But Stevens and agent Buddy Baker didn't budge because Stevens wanted to honor his commitment to Carolina.
So the Saints decided to outflank the Panthers by trading their 2021 sixth-round pick to the Houston Texans for a seventh-rounder this year. They took Stevens with the 240th overall pick.
According to Payton, he sent one text to Brady that said, "Not so fast," and another to Stevens and Baker that said, "I'm tired of asking. Now, I'm taking."
"There's a little bit of competitive juices flying between me and Sean about, 'We want this player. And we're not gonna let anybody take him from us. We're gonna take him from them,'" Saints assistant general manager/college scouting director Jeff Ireland said on the team's daily podcast. Payton said he understood why Stevens wanted to honor his commitment to Carolina.
"I said, 'Honestly, I was having some fun,'" Payton said. "'You had given your word and I respect that. But we weren't going to lose you. You were going to become a Saint.'"
After the draft, Payton explained that the Saints see Stevens as both a developmental QB and someone they could use as a tight end or on special teams, much like they have used Hill in recent years.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder threw for 1,155 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions during an injury-riddled season as a graduate transfer with Mississippi State last year. He ran for 381 yards and four TDs.
The reality is that Hill is going to be making $10 million a year and they just signed Winston so the best this kid will do is practice squad unless he is a special teams beast. While this is funny story bout Payton, it also probably hurt the kids career by not allowing him to go to a QB needy team.
The Joe Burrow era in Cincinnati is beginning, and the Andy Dalton era is ending.
The Bengals are releasing Dalton, according to multiple reports.
That comes as no surprise: Burrow is going to be the Bengals’ starting quarterback right away, and having Dalton on the roster would only get in the way, as well as take up $17.7 million in salary cap space, all of which the Bengals will save by releasing him.
Dalton will become an unrestricted free agent as soon as the move becomes official, and he’ll be an intriguing option for any teams needing a quarterback.
The Patriots have been mentioned as a team that could be interested in Dalton’s services, and the Jaguars, whose offensive coordinator Jay Gruden previously coached Dalton, may have interest as well.
With both Dalton and Cam Newton now free agents, there are a couple of proven veterans available in the quarterback free agent pool.
Rob Gronkowski isn't joking around this time. He has his Tampa Bay Buccaneers playbook and said it arrived after last week's trade from the New England Patriots.
That's according to a social media post Wednesday from the star tight end, who went on Twitter to clarify that a comment he made over the weekend suggesting that he had received the playbook before the trade was in jest.
"This is seriously a story?" Gronkowski wrote. "LOL."
On Saturday night, Gronkowski was part of a Bud Light-sponsored draft after-party, during which one of the guests, ESPN's Sage Steele, spoke about how Joe Burrow, the No. 1 overall selection by the Bengals, had been working with Cincinnati's playbook weeks before the team officially made its selection.
Gronkowski then jumped in and said, "I was in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' playbook four weeks ago, and I wasn't even on the team."
That comment took on a life of its own when some outlets questioned if Gronkowski was telling the truth and, if so, whether it violated league rules. The Pats-Bucs trade wasn't official until April 21.
But Gronkowski said Wednesday that he received his team-issued Microsoft Surface tablet earlier in the day, and he posted a picture of himself holding it.
Never one to stay serious for too long, Gronkowski then followed with a joke.
"It's still in the package and hoping it is all pictures and drawings," he wrote. "I'm pumped to open it one day hopefully soon and follow the arrows to learn where to run to. Gronk run Gronk catch ball. No playbook needed. Hehe."
It is very clear that between Brady trying to practice with his offensive coordinator or hanging out in the park when he should have been inside and then now this issue with Gronk that these two miscreants were the cause of all of the Patriots rule breaking troubles.