Extra Points: Beckham, Luck, Browns, Hawks

On Day 1 of the true NFL offseason, here’s the latest, beginning with a difference from Odell Beckham Jr.‘s 2017 situation in which the Giants’ star pass-catcher currently finds himself.

  • Beckham hasn’t joined 2014 draft-class peers Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald and Taylor Lewan in holding out. He showed up for Giants minicamp and said he would be there for training camp. His standing in the organization may be on the rise, too. One new Giants coach told SI.com’s Albert Breer that Beckham “has been awesome” to the new personnel in the building. Breer said the perennial Pro Bowl wideout will have more people in the organization going to bat for him during these negotiations than was the case last year. The talks, though, aren’t progressing at this point.
  • This offseason’s gone much more smoothly for Andrew Luck than his initial post-shoulder surgery months did. Breer notes the Colts quarterback made it about 5 1/2 months in 2017 before enduring setbacks, ones that ultimately erased his ’17 season. Now, Luck is throwing again, having privately participated in a post-minicamp workout Friday, per Breer. While Luck still has some significant obstacles to navigate, the Colts’ new coaching staff isn’t concerned about his timeline. The team, though, will give Luck days off during training camp, Breer reports, and organize his reps like they’d be distributed during the regular season.
  • One reason the Browns opted for Denzel Ward over Bradley Chubb, who they had rated alongside one another on the non-quarterback sector of their draft board: a belief in third-year defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. A Sashi Brown-era investment, Ogbah played well before breaking his foot last November. The new-look Browns are high on Ogbah having a strong season opposite Myles Garrett, Terry Pluto of cleveland.com notes.
  • Byron Maxwell‘s enjoyed an up-and-down career, but as of now, he’s the favorite to start opposite Shaquill Griffin for the Seahawks, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com notes. He will be playing the same spot he did in Super Bowl XLIX, right cornerback, after the team moved Griffin to Richard Sherman‘s old left corner position. Maxwell’s experience on the right side was one of the reasons the Seahawks relocated Griffin, Pete Carroll said.
  • Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal is eligible for the supplemental draft, and ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter already posited he could be the highest-drafted player in this summer event since Josh Gordon went in the 2012 second round. Scouts have also raved about Beal, with Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com reporting evaluators he spoke to assigned a first-round grade to the defender. While this grade was contingent on his entering the regular 2019 draft, a team figures to give up one of its 2019 selections in order to draft Beal in the supplemental event. Offensive lineman Isaiah Battle was the last player chosen in the supplemental draft; the Rams used a fifth-round pick on him in 2015.

Jadeveon Clowney, Texans Not Progressing On Extension

While negotiations with Odell Beckham Jr., Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack are overshadowing the Texans’ talks with Jadeveon Clowney, the talks in Houston could get interesting fairly soon. Because as of Monday night, the Texans and Clowney have not engaged in any substantive extension discussions this offseason, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports.

These proceedings differ from the Texans’ approaches with past offseason extension recipients Matt Schaub, Eric Winston or DeAndre Hopkins, per McClain, with dialogue ramping up prior to those deals being finalized. Clowney, though, is again dealing with an injury that could be causing the Texans to pause these seminal negotiations. Though, McClain notes Clowney assured Bill O’Brien he’d be ready by the time the Texans open camp July 26.

Although Clowney’s shaken off his rookie-year injury and been largely available since, he’s been more prone to physical ailments than Donald or Mack. With the Texans seeing J.J. Watt‘s prime being threatened by severe setbacks, the franchise may want to see Clowney provide further proof the injuries are in his past.

To be fair, Clowney has only missed two games in the past two seasons combined and five in the past three. The 25-year-old standout missed 12 as a rookie, though, with a knee injury and needed arthroscopic knee surgery this offseason. He finished with a career-high 9.5 sacks last season and spearheaded a Houston defense that saw both Watt and Whitney Mercilus go down early in the season. Clowney holding out could leave the Texans vulnerable considering Watt’s recent history and Mercilus also missing extensive time in 2017.

Clowney reported for Houston’s offseason activities but did not participate due to the offseason knee procedure. He’s said he wants to stay in Houston long-term, and new Texans GM Brian Gaine — who just authorized a five-year, $50MM re-up for Benardrick McKinneyexpressed optimism about a deal being done before the regular season.

This franchise has a history of completing major extensions in the offseason, as the deals for Watt, Hopkins and now McKinney show, and Gaine is following Rick Smith‘s policy of no in-season negotiations. But McClain does not expect a Clowney deal to come to fruition before the season begins.

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Latest On Aaron Donald, Rams

Aaron Donald‘s seen several players follow his 2017 example and hold out in pursuit of an extension, but the Rams defensive tackle remains at an impasse with his team. Specific demands have not come out like they have in many past holdouts, but a number has emerged on the Donald front.

The fifth-year defender wants to reset the market for non-quarterbacks, Lindsay Thiry of ESPN.com notes, adding that the reigning defensive player of the year wants at least $20MM per year. This is understandable and may even be on the low end for what Donald could command.

That $20MM figure would top Von Miller‘s $19.1MM-AAV amount, but given the cap’s rise by $22MM since Miller signed his Broncos extension in 2016, Donald signing for $20MM annually wouldn’t comprise as much of Los Angeles’ cap as Miller’s deal does of Denver’s. Miller’s Broncos deal, at the time, represented just more than 12 percent of the 2016 cap. If Donald were seeking a 2018 equivalent to that agreement, it would cost the Rams more than $22MM per year.

While there are obviously more components to these talks, Donald accepting $20MM per year could actually be considered a team-friendly decision and represent slower growth for the top-tier defender market — much like when quarterback salaries proved slow to move in the years after Aaron Rodgers‘ 2013 extension.

Rams GM Les Snead‘s acknowledged the Rams are going to have to finalize an unprecedented contract for Donald, who’s unquestionably been the best interior defender in the league over the past two seasons. But what’s unknown is how much of a gap will separate Miller’s deal from Donald’s new one.

But given that Donald staged an unsuccessful holdout last year, he may have to be more pragmatic about his latest attempt. Should the 27-year-old superstar fail to report to the Rams by August 7, he will not be classified as a UFA in 2019. Instead, he’ll be a restricted free agent because of his 2017 holdout. While Donald’s talents would draw a monstrous offer sheet elsewhere in an unrealistic scenario where he’s allowed to hit the RFA market, thus forcing the Rams to place the franchise tag on him if this summer’s situation drags longer than it’s expected to, losing UFA status could well induce Donald to show up at Rams camp instead of skipping it entirely like he did last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Billy Price Fully Cleared After Chest Injury

The Bengals are set to have their preferred starting center available when they convene for training camp next month. First-round pick Billy Price tweeted Monday he’s been fully cleared for work.

An offseason injury defined Price’s first NFL offseason. The Ohio State standout tore a pectoral muscle while doing bench press in February, but it didn’t damage his stock much. The Bengals selected him with the No. 21 overall pick.

Price was expected to be ready by the time camp began, and a report last week placed the rookie blocker as being a month ahead of schedule. Being cleared on Monday, more than five weeks from the start of Bengals camp, lines up with that updated timeline.

The Bengals will shift to Price after deploying Russell Bodine as their starting center for the past 64 regular-season games. Bodine started every game as a Bengal in his four years in Cincinnati, but he’s now with the Bills battling for their starting job. Barring something unexpected, Price will join longtime Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn as new Bengals offensive line starters.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Sign Round 2 TE Mike Gesicki

In reaching a deal with second-round tight end Mike Gesicki, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (on Twitter), the Dolphins now have their full draft class signed. Here’s the list:

Gesicki signing his four-year rookie contract leaves just three second-rounders — Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, Colts guard Braden Smith and 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis — unsigned.

Miami used rare draft capital on a tight end in pulling the trigger on Gesicki. The franchise had not previously picked a tight end in the second round since 1976 (Loaird McCreary) and hadn’t chosen a tight end higher since 1974 (Andre Tillman, No. 38 overall).

The Penn State product has a clear path to playing time, if he can show he’s NFL-ready. A.J. Derby, a 2017 waiver claim, headlines the Dolphins’ list of tight ends.

Panthers Sign First-Round WR D.J. Moore

The Panthers have signed rookie D.J. Moore, according to an announcement from the team. With the wide receiver under contract, the Panthers have now wrapped up their entire draft class. 

Early on in draft season, many believed that Alabama’s Calvin Ridley would be the first receiver to come off of the board. However, with strong performances in workouts, Moore leapfrogged him on many draft boards. Moore won out as he was selected 24th overall by the Panthers while Ridley went No. 26 overall to the Falcons.

The Maryland standout earned Big Ten Receiver of the Year honors last year after setting a single-season school record for receptions with 80. Despite playing with four different quarterbacks, Moore posted 1,033 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, becoming just the third wide receiver in school history to post a 1,000-yard receiving season.

Moore will now be tasked with a significant role in the Panthers’ offense as he catches passes from Cam Newton. Moore projects to be the one of the team’s top wide receivers, along with Devin Funchess and fellow Maryland alum Torrey Smith.

Per the terms of his slot, Moore will earn roughly $11.2MM over the course of his four-year deal. The pact will include a $6.2MM signing bonus.

Here’s the complete rundown of Carolina’s draft class:

Carolina Panthers

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This Date In Transactions History: Bengals Cut Terrelle Pryor

On this date in 2015, the Bengals released quarterback Terrelle Pryor. After four unremarkable years in the NFL, the move didn’t mean much at the time. However, the release changed the trajectory of the former Ohio State star’s career.

The late Al Davis brought Pryor into the league after selecting him in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft. Pryor didn’t play much in his first two seasons and struggled on the whole in 2013, although there were some impressive moments. Pryor was traded to the Seahawks in 2014, but was cut prior to Week 1 and wound up sitting out of football altogether that year. In January of 2015, the Chiefs signed Pryor, but released him in May. The Bengals scooped him up, but cut him from the roster five weeks later on June 18, 2015.

Clearly, Pryor’s athleticism could not carry him at the quarterback position in the NFL, but he was reluctant to give up on his lifelong dream. Prior to signing with the Bengals, Pryor declared, “If I can’t play quarterback, I can’t play football.” But, after his release from the Bengals, agent Drew Rosenhaus informed teams that Pryor was willing to line up as a wide receiver.

Ohio’s other team – the Browns – moved quickly to claim Pryor off of waivers. Pryor mostly sat on the bench in 2015 as Josh McCown‘s backup, but the Browns shifted him to wide receiver prior to the 2016 offseason. The Browns were optimistic about what the 6’4″, 228-pound athlete could do at his new position, but few expected him to finish the season with 77 catches for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns.

Pryor parlayed his huge season into a one-year, $6MM free agent deal with the Redskins, but he was held back by an ankle injury and did little in D.C. This offseason, the Jets decided to take a moderate gamble on Pryor by signing him to a one-year, $4.5MM contract with $2MM guaranteed.

Pryor is still battling an ankle injury and it’s anyone’s guess as to whether he’ll be able to replicate his ’16 production with Gang Green. But, Pryor has earned far more in the NFL than anyone expected he would back in 2015, which is something to be proud of regardless of how things shake out from here.

Delvin Breaux Signs With CFL Team

Delvin Breaux will not be playing for an NFL team in 2018. The former Saints cornerback has signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, according to Nick Underhill of The Advocate (on Twitter). The news was first reported by Justin Dunk of 3 Down Nation

The Saints opted against tendering a contract to Breaux in March, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. Despite meetings with the Broncos, Patriots, Packers, and 49ers in that very same month, the veteran did not sign with any teams. He’ll now look to rebuild his stock north of the border.

Breaux first put himself on the NFL’s radar with his strong play for the Ticats. After earning an All-Star selection in 2014, nearly half of the league watched him work out. The Saints signed Breaux in 2015 and he graded out as a high-end starter in his first year with the club. Breaux started in all 16 games and notched three interceptions, but he has been unable to recapture the magic so far.

Between a broken fibula suffered in the 2016 season opener and a shoulder injury sustained later in the year, Breaux lost the bulk of his sophomore season. He was then unable to take the field in 2017 after another fractured fibula that was misdiagnosed by team doctors as a leg contusion. That incident led to the Saints overhauling their medical team.

It was widely assumed that teams stayed away from Breaux due to his past leg injuries, but an issue with his spine is what prevented him from getting cleared by other teams in the NFL, Underhill hears (on Twitter).

CFL contracts run for a minimum of two years and do not include opt-outs for NFL opportunities, so the 28-year-old (29 in October) is set to play in Canada through the 2019 season. In theory, teams can grant requests for a release, but they are not obligated to do so. Ticats quarterback Johnny Manziel is in the same boat.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

10% Of NFL Draft Picks Remain Unsigned

As shown in PFR’s tracker, the bulk of this year’s draft picks are now under contract. Of this year’s 256 selections, 230 have inked their first NFL deal. As of Monday morning, that leaves just 26 players – or approximately 10% of this year’s class – unsigned. Here’s the complete breakdown of the stragglers, round by round:

First Round (16)

Second Round (4)

  • Colts, 2-36: Darius Leonard, LB (South Carolina State)
  • Colts, 2-37: Braden Smith, G (Auburn)
  • Dolphins, 2-42: Mike Gesicki, TE (Penn State)
  • 49ers, 2-44: Dante Pettis, WR (Washington)

Third Round (5)

Fifth Round (1)

Sixth Round (0)

Seventh Round (0)

Fourth Round (0)

Rookie holdouts are pretty rare under the current CBA, but the Joey Bosa drama of 2016 reminded all of us that it’s still a possibility. We have yet to hear of a significant divide between this year’s first-round picks and their respective teams, but it’s something to keep in mind as we inch closer to training camp.

Typically, first-round picks take longer to sign as they haggle over offset language. Offset language relates to what happens to a player’s salary if he’s cut during the first four years of his career, while he’s still playing on his rookie contract. For example, if a player has $4MM in guaranteed money remaining on his contract and is cut, he’ll still be owed that $4MM.

However, if a team has written offset language into the contract, that club can save some money if and when the player signs with a new team. For example, if that player who had $4MM in guaranteed money left on his contract signs with a new club on a $1MM deal, his old team would only be on the hook for $3MM, with the new team making up the difference. Some teams hold the line on the issue of offset language while others are willing to either give into the agent’s demands or meet them halfway with “partial” offset language.

Third-round picks also tend to take a while to sign due to flexibility in base compensation, but that list of stragglers has been cut in half – from 10 to 5 – over the last two weeks.

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