This Date In Transactions History: Jets Reunite With Demario Davis

Three years ago today, the Jets swung a deal with the Browns to reunite with Demario Davis and move on from first-round draft bust Calvin Pryor all in one shot.

Davis didn’t see the field much in his 2012 rookie season with the Jets, but he cracked their starting lineup as an NFL sophomore and remained a Gang Green first-stringer through 2015. After that, he moved on to the Browns in free agency with a two-year, $8MM deal. As the Browns’ starting left inside linebacker, Davis racked up 99 tackles and two sacks, but then-Browns GM Sashi Brown seized an opportunity to trade a dependable veteran for a hard-hitting youngster who had yet to make his mark as a pro.

Calvin is a young, experienced safety that has upside,” Brown said. “We are pleased to be able to add him to our defensive back room and just like every player we acquire, we expect him to come in with a hard-working mindset ready to compete. DeMario is a guy that we developed the utmost respect for in his time with our team, not only as a professional but also as a person. We appreciate all he did for our organization in his time in Cleveland.”

Pryor, known as the “Louisville Slugger,” didn’t have a clear-cut role in the Jets’ secondary after they used their first two picks in the 2017 draft on Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. The Browns felt that Pryor could play behind their own rookie safety, Jabrill Peppers, and possibly find steady work in the rotation. Even though Pryor didn’t move the needle much as a pro, there was reason to believe – Pro Football Focus ranked him as a top 50 safety in his first two pro seasons and, even with his ’16 regression, he still ranked ahead of two safeties who were on the Browns’ roster at the time.

Unfortunately for Cleveland, Pryor did not pan out. The Louisville Slugger took a swing at teammate Ricardo Louis, prompting Hue Jackson to cut him before the season opener. Pryor moved on to the Jaguars, suffered an ankle injury in September, and got cut towards the end of the year. Pryor was on the workout circuit in 2018, but he never found his way back to the field.

Davis, meanwhile, exceeded all expectations. He started in all 16 of his games in 2017, per the usual, but delivered a team-high 97 solo tackles and a new career high of 5.0 sacks. And, get this – the Jets even got him to accept less than his scheduled ~$4MM salary for that year, making him an even better value. Fortunately, Davis got his payday the following year. Unfortunately for the Jets, it was with the Saints. After earning First-Team All-Pro honors in 2019, Davis is gearing up for his third season with New Orleans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Sign Rookie Vernon Scott

On Monday, the club announced the signing of seventh-round safety Vernon Scott. With that, the Packers now have two of their draft picks officially in the fold.

Scott, a safety out of TCU, was selected in the seventh-round as the No. 236 overall pick. Per the terms of his slot, he’ll receive a four-year, $3.378MM deal with a signing bonus of about $84K. Of course, it’s not a given that he’ll earn that full ~$3.4MM – as a late draft choice, he’ll first have to earn his spot on the 53-man roster, and that’s far from a sure thing. Still, he’ll have an opportunity to make the cut as a supporting safety behind starters Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage.

The Packers are high on Scott’s natural ability. He was a three-sport athlete in high school and, while on campus, he ran a 4.4 second 40-yard-dash and posted a 35-inch vertical leap. The raw talent is undeniably there, but he’ll have to impress this summer in order to find his place on the team.

Scott and fellow seventh-round choice Jonathan Garvin are accounted for, but the Packers still have seven draft picks to go, as shown in PFR’s tracker.

The NFL’s Post-June 1 Cuts, Explained

NFL teams will often use contract bonuses as a way to spread out a cap hit that might otherwise be exorbitant. For example, if a player’s four-year deal includes a $8MM signing bonus, that money can be paid immediately but spread out over four years for cap purposes. This way, the cap charge for the bonus amounts to $2MM per year for cap purposes, rather than $8MM in year one. 

There’s an obvious benefit to kicking the can down the road, but it can also hurt teams if they want to terminate that deal. If the club in the above scenario wanted to release the player in the second year of his contract, it would still have to account for that remaining prorated bonus money. Rather than counting on the cap as $2MM per year for two seasons, that dead money “accelerates,” and applies to the cap for the league year in which the player is released. In other words, the remaining $4MM in prorated bonus money immediately counts against the cap.

Although these rules apply to many cuts, a different set of rules is in place for players released after June 1. In that case, a team can spread the cap hit across two seasons rather than one — for the current season, the prorated bonus figure stays at its original amount, with the remaining bonus balance accelerating onto the following season. Referring again to the above scenario, that means the player would count against the cap for $2MM in the league year in which he was cut, with the remaining $4MM applying to the following league year.

The guidelines for pre-June 1 and post-June 1 cuts are fairly straightforward, but things become a little more complicated when we take into account that teams are allowed to designate up to two players as post-June 1 cuts even if those players are released before June. This offseason, we’ve seen a handful of players designated as post-June 1 cuts: Trey Burton (Bears), Desmond Trufant (Falcons), Trumaine Johnson (Jets), and Todd Gurley (Rams).

In the case of Johnson, the Jets were initially slated to pay him $11MM in base salary this year. Under typical circumstances, the release would have left Gang Green with a $12MM dead money obligation for 2020. However, through the post-June 1 designation, they will unlock $11MM in cap space starting on Tuesday with just $4MM in dead money this year. In 2021, they’ll be faced with the remaining $8MM charge.

Because the cap charge for the current league year isn’t reduced until June, designating a player as a post-June 1 cut hasn’t been hugely advantageous for teams historically. Typically, by June, just about every notable free agent is off the board. However, this year is a bit of a different story – Jadeveon Clowney, Logan Ryan, Larry Warford, and other notable vets are still on the board.

Free agent opportunities aside, releasing a player in the spring and designating him a post-June 1 cut can be mutually beneficial for a player and his team. It allows the player to hit the market when potential suitors still have cap room and are still looking to add free agents, and it allows the club to spread out the player’s cap charge without having to actually wait until June 1 to release him — waiting until that point could mean paying roster or workout bonuses in the interim. Additionally, even if the team doesn’t need that June cap space for free agency, it can come in handy for signing draft picks.

A couple loose ends related to post-June 1 cuts:

  • The same rules applying to players who are released apply to players who are traded — if a team trades a player after June 1, his remaining bonus money can be spread out over two seasons. However, a club can’t designate anyone traded prior to June as a post-June 1 player.
  • Teams cannot designate post-June 1 cuts during the final league year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  • This year, NFL teams were bracing for the possibility of not having the post-June 1 cut at their disposal, due to the expiring collective bargaining agreement. However, the NFL and the NFLPA ensured the 2020 post-June 1 cut and many years of labor peace with a brand new CBA.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets, Falcons, Rams, Bears To Gain Cap Room Via Post-June 1 Cuts

The Bears, Falcons, Jets, and Rams will gain additional cap space starting Tuesday, as Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. The extra flexibility comes from the following releases that have been designated as post-June 1 cuts: 

Players released after June 1 can have their remaining cap charge spread out across two seasons, rather than one. These four players were released earlier this year, but designated as post-June 1 cuts to smooth out the dead money.

For these teams, a chunk of this money will go towards funding the incoming rookie class. However, there will still be some room left over for summer upgrades, thanks to the top-51 rule. In the case of the Falcons, they’ll have about $8.25MM to spend, as Kevin Knight of The Falcoholic notes.

The additional space could jumpstart talks for June’s best remaining free agents, a group that includes defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, cornerback Logan Ryan, and guard Larry Warford. The Jets probably won’t go for Clowney, but they’ve shown serious interest in Ryan and Warford would make some sense for them if they want to upgrade over Brian Winters.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Texans, Deshaun Watson

The Texans are still in the “extremely preliminary” stage of talks with Deshaun Watson, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Things are still on track and positive, sources say, but there’s no rush on either side. 

For a while, we’ve heard that Watson could land a deal worth roughly $40MM per year. Not long ago, that was the jaw-dropping projection for Patrick Mahomes. If Watson signs his deal before Mahomes, buckle up – the KC star could command something closer to the $50MM/year mark, plus potential clauses that would change the business, such as salary cap escalators.

For now, Watson is set to make just $1.177MM in base salary for 2020. After watching Laremy Tunsil land a three-year, $66MM extension, he feels confident that his big payday is just around the corner.

It’s definitely good,” Watson said of the Texans’ willingness to take care fo their own. “It’s exciting for all of us. Only time will tell, but we’re going to do everything we can to make sure it’s on the right track. We’re going to win a lot of games and championships while we continue to figure out that side of the business, too.”

If/when Watson inks his deal, it would be a surprise if he didn’t top Russell Wilson‘s league-leading $35MM AAV. If Watson, Mahomes, and Dak Prescott all sign new contracts in the next few months, Wilson could be No. 4 on the list by the time the season starts.

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Patriots Explored Cam Newton Deal?

Weeks after Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton agreed to deals, Cam Newton remains unattached. Not much known interest has come Newton’s way since the Panthers released him, and ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler indicated the former MVP’s market has even cooled over the past month.

But the team with the most noticeable quarterback need may well have spoken with Newton at some point this offseason. The Patriots are believed to have talked with Newton early in free agency, Fowler notes, but nothing came out of those discussions. Newton has been a free agent since Carolina released him a week into free agency.

After losing one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, the Patriots did not make an impact move to replace him. Their Tom Brady succession plan exiting May: a competition featuring 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and the recently re-signed Brian Hoyer. New England added two UDFA quarterbacks but passed on several free agent arms since Brady’s Buccaneers defection.

Patriots OC Josh McDaniels interviewed for the Panthers job that ended up going to Matt Rhule, and the veteran play-caller was not believed to be high on Newton during his pitch for the Carolina role. Newton is obviously a more proven passer than Stidham or Hoyer and has achieved far more than many teams’ starting quarterbacks. But the 31-year-old QB’s wait continues. And the former No. 1 overall pick is willing to continue waiting, Fowler adds. At this point, Newton may be waiting to see if a training camp injury or before opens a starting job somewhere.

Reports have created an inconclusive picture of Newton’s desire to accept a backup role, and Fowler notes some around the league are not sure if the nine-year Panthers starter would be willing to do so. Newton has not been a backup since his short stay at Florida in the late 2000s.

The Chargers considered Newton, and ex-Panthers HC Ron Rivera discussed his former charge as well. The injuries Newton suffered in recent years — from his 2018 shoulder relapse to last year’s Lisfranc setback, which required surgery — have worked against Newton in this COVID-19-marred offseason. Although coronavirus restrictions are slowly loosening, free agents remain unable to visit teams’ facilities. Before a franchise goes forward with a Newton offer, it would almost certainly want its medical staff to examine him. This has kept Newton in limbo as he rehabs from the December foot surgery.

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Giants Won’t Pursue Jadeveon Clowney

The Giants could use an edge rusher and Jadeveon Clowney remains available, but they’re not interested in the former No. 1 overall pick, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes. This jibes with recent comments from GM Dave Gettleman who indicated that he’ll focus on lower-priced options.

[RELATED: Jadeveon Clowney Turns Down Browns]

In March, Clowney said that he’d be open to joining the Giants, but that interest hasn’t been reciprocated. Instead, the Giants seem more focused on a reunion with Markus Golden, a cheaper edge rusher who led the team with ten sacks last year. The Giants tethered Golden with the rarely used unrestricted free agent tender, which will bring him back to the club if no one else signs him by July 22. Golden doesn’t have Clowney’s name value, and the advanced metrics aren’t keen on his lack of quarterback pressures last year, but he’d be a better budgetary fit. If no one bites on Golden in the next seven weeks, the Giants would have him back on a one-year, $4.12MM deal.

Last week, we learned that Clowney rejected an offer from the Browns. The Browns are still interested in signing him, just not at his current asking price. That’s more or less the case for every team connected to Clowney, though the Eagles believe that the gap is too large to even consider a pursuit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Wayne, Lions, Fewell, Staff

Reggie Wayne retired after 14 seasons four years ago, and while he only played regular-season games with the Colts, the decorated wideout was a Patriot briefly. However, the Lions showed interest in adding him in that 2015 offseason as well. Wayne was not interested, citing the Lions’ insistence he work out for them as a reason he sidestepped them en route to New England.

I said, ‘Work out? You the Detroit Lions. Wait. Work out? I’m good,'” Wayne said during an appearance on NFL Network anchor Dan Hellie’s Helliepod podcast (via the Detroit Free Press). “Like, I can give you — I got 14 years of working out that you can see,” Wayne said. “So I was like, ‘Nah, I’m cool.’”

Then coached by former Colts HC Jim Caldwell, the Lions employed Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate as their starters at that point. Wayne did end up working out for the Patriots but cited Bill Belichick‘s success as a reason he agreed to audition for the Pats. Wayne’s Patriots tenure ended up lasting barely 10 days, with the then-36-year-old wideout asking to be released before the start of the 2015 season. Wayne added during the interview the Pats let him keep a $450K signing bonus he received.

Shifting to current matters, is the latest from around the league:

  • Veteran NFL assistant and two-time interim HC Perry Fewell accepted a job with the NFL this week. The league named Fewell its senior vice president of officiating administration. The former Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator will oversee the officiating department, which will include working with outreach to GMs and head coaches. This will be the 57-year-old Fewell’s first year away from coaching since he began in the profession in the mid-1980s. Fewell has been an NFL assistant since 1998.
  • When the NFL revamped its Rooney Rule, it also added a provision that will feature all 32 teams housing a coaching fellowship program for minority candidates. These will be full-time positions that will last from one to two years.
  • The NFL made another new hire recently, tapping Jeff Miller as its new executive VP of communications, public affairs and policy, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).
  • NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is somewhat less bullish on the 2020 season unfolding than the NFL currently is.

Carlos Hyde Rejected Multiyear Texans Offer?

Carlos Hyde appears to have been involved in multiple running back domino sequences this offseason. The new Seahawks running back turned down an offer from the Texans, and more clarity emerged on Houston’s effort to keep the 1,000-yard rusher in town.

The Texans offered Hyde a two-year, $10MM deal, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via ESPN 710 Seattle’s John Clayton). This offer emerged before the Texans’ blockbuster trade that involved DeAndre Hopkins going to Arizona and David Johnson taking Hyde’s place as Houston’s starting running back.

After Hyde spent nearly 2 1/2 months in free agency, he landed a one-year, $2.75MM Seahawks deal that can max out at $4MM. That agreement came together quickly, transpiring shortly after the Seahawks offering Devonta Freeman a similar contract. Freeman turned down the proposal and remains a free agent. Hyde turning down the Texans may have cost him a bit of dough. And it created quite the ripple effect.

Hyde passing on the Texans’ offer prompted them to take on one of the league’s most onerous contracts. Houston will pay Johnson $10.2MM this year. The former All-Pro back’s $13MM-per-year pact has two seasons remaining. With the Texans’ payroll also including Duke Johnson‘s $5.2MM-AAV deal, they have more than $17MM committed to the running back position this season — third-most in the league. The Seahawks’ backfield of Hyde, Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny ranks 16th in terms of 2020 cap commitment.

The Browns gave Hyde a similar deal to this Texans offer, adding him on a three-year, $15MM accord in 2018. After trades from Cleveland and Kansas City — sandwiching a stop in Jacksonville — Hyde rushed for a career-high 1,070 yards last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Considering Moving Training Camp

Although the Raiders are set to debut in Las Vegas this season, they were scheduled to hold a final training camp at their Napa, Calif., camp home of the past 24 years. The COVID-19 pandemic may change those plans.

The team is seriously considering holding camp at its new Henderson, Nev., headquarters, Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Both the 49ers and Cowboys have discussed relocating their training camps out of California. The Chargers and Rams are set to hold camps in their home state, but uncertainty remains on this front.

While New Jersey and New York have given the go-ahead for training camps to occur, California has yet to do so. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has given the Raiders the green light to hold camp in the state.

Despite several workers having tested positive for COVID-19, the Raiders’ stadium remains on track for completion by late July. A training camp in Nevada would simplify the franchise’s process of having its entire player roster, coaching staff and other essential personnel travel back to northern California at a time when travel presents near-unprecedented uncertainty. Raiders officials, per Bonsignore, have discussed the benefits of now staying in Nevada for camp. This may well be the direction the team is leaning.

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