Latest On Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott

While extensions for Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper remain the priority in Dallas, the Cowboys and running back Ezekiel Elliott are “on the same page” regarding a new deal, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link), who adds Elliott has opened discussions with the Cowboys on a contract that would — in all likelihood — make him the league’s highest-paid running back.

Elliot’s contract negotiations are on the back-burner in Dallas, and that’s not completely unexpected. In addition to Prescott and Cooper, cornerback Byron Jones and offensive lineman La’el Collins are also scheduled to reach unrestricted free agency next spring. The Cowboys only have one franchise tag to deploy, so signing their impressive crop of 2020 free agents could prove difficult, although the club is projected to have the third-most cap space ($75MM) in the NFL next spring.

After his fifth-year option was exercised last month, Elliott is under contract for the 2020 campaign at a price of $9.099MM. So far, no other member of the 2016 draft class has signed an extension. But again, that’s not out of the norm, as 2016 draftees only became eligible for new deals when the 2018 regular season concluded.

If the 23-year-old Elliott is to become the NFL’s highest-paid running back, he’ll have to surpass the four-year, $57.5MM contract the Rams’ Todd Gurley signed last summer. That deal contained nearly $22MM in fully guaranteed money, and is worth $1.25MM more per year than Le’Veon Bell‘s deal, which ranks second among backs.

The Cowboys haven’t been shy about running Elliott into the ground during his first three years with the team. He led the league in carries in both 2016 and 2018, and probably would have done so in 2017 had he not missed six games via suspension. Las season, Elliott posted 1,434 yards and six touchdowns on the ground while adding 77 receptions, 567 yards, and three scores in the passing game. Of course, Elliott ran behind one of the NFL’s better offensive lines, and only ranked 18th in Football Outsiders’ success rate.

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Saints Host S Brynden Trawick

The Saints met with free agent defensive back/special teamer Brynden Trawick on Tuesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

An undrafted free agent out of Troy in 2013, the 29-year-old Trawick is essentially a pure special teamer. He’s played only 194 defensive snaps during his six-year career, and just four over the past two seasons. On special teams, though, Trawick is especially valuable, managing at least 300 ST snaps in each of the past five campaigns.

Last year, Trawick saw action on 342 special teams plays (good for top-35 in the NFL) and posted eight tackles. He earned a 2017 Pro Bowl nod as a special teamer as a member of the Titans, with whom he just finished a two-year, $4.75MM contract.

New Orleans hired a new special teams coach this offseason in former Dolphins associate head coach Darren Rizzi. The Saints, which ranked ninth in Football Outsiders’ special teams DVOA a season ago, already roster several players who are nearly exclusively special teamers, including defensive backs Chris Banjo, Justin Hardee, and Josh Robinson, and linebackers Craig Robertson and Vince Biegel.

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Minor NFL Transactions: 5/22/19

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Cincinnati Bengals

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Titans Sign First-Round DT Jeffery Simmons

The Titans have signed first-round defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, the club announced today.

Simmons was widely viewed as one of the best players in the 2019 class, but a number of issues forced him to fall until midway through the first round. First and foremost, the Mississippi State product was arrested for assaulting a woman during his senior year of high school (Simmons claims he was attempting to stop said woman from striking his sister). Second, Simmons tore his ACL in February, meaning he won’t be able to play for the Titans until late in 2019 or potentially 2020.

Once he is medically cleared, Simmons will join a Titans defensive line that boasts a start in Jurrell Casey but could still use a reinforcement. Casey led the Titans’ defensive line by ranking 14th in Pro Football Focus‘ positional grades, but no other Tennessee interior defender finished inside the top-45. As a unit, the Titans front four ranked just 22nd in adjusted sack rate and 28th in adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders.

As is standard for every first-round pick, Simmons will sign a four-year deal with a fifth-year option for the 2022 season. Per Over the Cap, Simmons’ four-year pact should have a value of roughly $12.664MM. He’ll collect a signing bonus of $7.23MM and will count for $2.303MM on Tennessee’s 2019 salary cap.

The Titans now have only two draft choices who remain unsigned: second-round receiver A.J. Brown and third-round guard Nate Davis.

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Bengals Interested In Gerald McCoy

The Bengals have expressed interest in free agent defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, according to Dianna Russini of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

McCoy has been a popular name since being released by the Buccaneers earlier this week, as both the Browns and Colts at least considered signing the veteran interior defender. Cincinnati, for its part, doesn’t have nearly as much available cap space as does Cleveland or Indianapolis, but with more than $20MM in reserves, the Bengals could certainly fit McCoy onto their books.

The Bengals made two offseason additions — free agent Kerry Wynn and fourth-round draft choice Renell Wren — to a defensive line that already included Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Carlos Dunlap, Carl Lawson, and Sam Hubbard. McCoy would likely become an immediate starter next to Atkins (and thus reduce Billings’ playing time), but there’s plenty of rotational snaps to go around, especially on a unit that ranked only 28th in pressure and 30th in adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders.

McCoy, 31, ranked fourth among defensive tackles with 21 quarterback hits in 2018 and finished as the NFL’s No. 28 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus. He’s demonstrated the ability to line up at a few different spots along the defensive interior, which could be a plus for the Bengals and new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo.

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Raiders Release QB Landry Jones

The Raiders released quarterback Landry Jones, according to a team announcement. The move will make room for tight end Erik Swoope, who agreed to sign with the club this week. 

Jones signed with the Raiders in March with hopes of finding a spot on the depth chart behind starter Derek Carr and backup Mike Glennon. Apparently, the Raiders prefer Nathan Peterman to Jones, who was once viewed as one of the league’s best No. 2 QBs.

The Steelers dropped Jones last September after he spent five seasons as Ben Roethlisberger‘s backup. He’ll likely latch on somewhere else, but probably won’t get much in the way of financial guarantees.

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Redskins Place Reuben Foster On IR, Sign LB Jon Bostic

Reuben Foster‘s season is officially over. On Wednesday, the Redskins placed the linebacker on IR and filled his spot on the roster by adding Jon Bostic

Foster went down during the very first drill of OTAs and the seriousness of the injury was immediately apparent after medical staff placed an air cast on his knee. It’s a bad blow for the Redskins, who were left with only late-round picks at the position after the release of Zach Brown.

To help fill the void, the Redskins signed Bostic, who ranked as one of the best off-ball ‘backers left on the market. Bostic doesn’t offer the same upside as Foster, but he did start in 14 games for the Steelers in 2018 before falling out of favor down the stretch. Last year, Bostic tallied 73 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and three passes defended while earning average marks from Pro Football Focus.

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Saints Sign Ryan Groy, Release Derek Newton

The Saints signed center Ryan Groy and safety Terrell Williams, according to a team announcement. In related moves, the club released guard Mike Herndon wide receiver Micah Wright, and tackle Derek Newton

Groy, 29 in September, spent the last four years with the Bills and made 14 starts over the last three seasons. The Bills kept him from joining the Rams by matching his offer sheet a couple of years ago, but they did not make a strong push to retain him this time around.

Newton, meanwhile, is being bumped to make room for new arrival Marshall Newhouse. The longtime starter for the Texans hasn’t been the same since he tore both patellar tendons in a 2016 game against the Broncos. He tried to rekindle his career with the Saints, but he leaves the team after suiting up for just one game.

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Saints To Sign Marshall Newhouse

The Saints are set to sign offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse, according to Adam Caplan of SiriusXM (on Twitter). Newhouse auditioned alongside fellow tackle Adam Bisnowaty and center/guard Ryan Groy on Tuesday and made a strong impression on the team. Caplan adds that the Saints could still sign one more offensive lineman, so the door could still be open for Bisnowaty or Groy in New Orleans. 

The Bills shipped Newhouse to the Panthers in September for a conditional 2021 seventh-round pick. He went on to appear in eleven games for the Saints, but started in only two of those contests. That marked a big change from 2017, when he started in all 14 of his contests for the Raiders. Over the course of his eight-year career, Newhouse has started in 72 games for the Packers, Bengals, Giants, Raiders, Bills, and Panthers.

The Saints project to start Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk at the tackle spots with support from veteran Jermon Bushrod. Newhouse probably has decent odds to make the cut following Wednesday’s release of Derek Newton.

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Seahawks Sign D.K. Metcalf

The Seahawks have officially signed second-round pick D.K. Metcalf, according to a team announcement. Per the terms of his slot, Metcalf will earn roughly $4.6MM over the course of his four-year deal. 

Metcalf has drawn national attention for his physique, but the Seahawks see him as more than just a 6’3″ mass of muscles. The Ole Miss product was widely projected to be a first-round pick this year, but the Seahawks managed to snag him at the end of the second round after a trade up with the Patriots.

Metcalf’s skill set was a hotly debated topic in the draft community, with his college production and agility numbers paling in comparison to his physique and speed-strength combination. Ultimately, he was the ninth wide receiver selected in the 2019 draft.

As a freshman, Metcalf caught 39 passes for 646 yards and seven touchdowns. All turned out to be career-best marks, with A.J. Brown having led the Rebels in receiving last season. Metcalf finished as Ole Miss’ third-leading receiver in 2018, despite appearing in only seven games.

The Seahawks now have ten of their eleven draft picks officially in the fold – only third-round linebacker Cody Barton remains unsigned.

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