Jaguars’ OL Andrew Norwell, Giants’ OL Kevin Zeitler On The Trade Block?

A pair of veteran offensive linemen are apparently on the trade block, but it’s sounding like there may not be any takers. Jason La Canfora is hearing that the Jaguars are shopping offensive guard Andrew Norwell, while the Giants are trying to move offensive guard Kevin Zeitler (Twitter link). The reporter adds that rival teams believe these two linemen will ultimately be released, at which time they’ll “generate significant interest” around the NFL.

Norwell parlayed his first-team All-Pro nod with the Panthers into a five-year, $66.5MM deal with the Jaguars in 2018. While the veteran hasn’t matched his production from that standout campaign, he’s still been a dependable presence on Jacksonville’s line over the past three years. The organization’s decision to shop (and, presumably, eventually move on from) Norwell is mostly financial; the veteran has a cap hit of $15MM in 2021 and $16MM in 2022, and cutting him would leave manageable dead cap hits of $6MM in 2021 and $3MM in 2022.

Zeitler, a former first-round pick, spent the first five seasons of his career with the Bengals, including a 2012 campaign where he earned All-Rookie Team honors from the Pro Football Writers Association. He inked a five-year, $60MM deal with the Browns in 2017, making him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. He spent a pair of seasons in Cleveland before getting dealt to the Giants as a part of the Odell Beckham trade.

The 30-year-old has played the past two seasons in New York, appearing in all but one game. The veteran has a $14.5MM cap hit in the final year of his contract, and the Giants would be left with only $2.5MM in dead cap if they decided to cut him.

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P Michael Palardy To Visit Bills

Michael Palardy has secured his first reported visit since getting dumped by the Panthers last month. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the veteran punter will be visiting the Bills tomorrow.

After bouncing around the league a bit to start his career, Palardy joined the Panthers back in 2016. He took on the full-time role in 2017, and he proceeded to appear in every game for Carolina over the next three years. However, the 28-year-old tore his ACL during the offseason, forcing him to miss the entire 2020 campaign. With one year remaining on his three-year, $7.52MM deal, the Panthers decided to save some cash and move on from the punter back in February.

Schefter notes that the punter is seven months removed from surgery and is expected to be ready for the regular season. Considering Palardy’s pedigree, it’s not a huge surprise that he’s already garnering interest from around the league. Plus, Bills GM Brandon Beane was in Carolina when the team initially signed the punter, so there’s some familiarity from that standpoint.

On the flip side, the Bills seemingly have a solution at punter in Corey Bojorquez. The 2018 undrafted free agent out of New Mexico has appeared in every game for Buffalo over the past two seasons, and despite the Bills finishing with a league-low 41 punters, Bojorquez managed to lead the NFL in average punt yardage (50.8). Bojorquez is set to hit restricted free agency this offseason, so the Bills are likely exploring their options before fully committing to the 24-year-old.

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Mike Mayock: Raiders ‘Couldn’t Be Happier’ With Derek Carr

There’s been a lot of buzz this offseason, just like the last couple of offseasons, that the Raiders could move on from Derek Carr. That includes a report from about a month ago that a number of teams had called about Carr, and that Las Vegas was at least willing to listen on those calls. 

Nothing much has happened since then though, and Raiders GM Mike Mayock recently sought to squash the speculation. “I think Derek Carr has earned a lot of respect around this league from an awful lot of people,” Mayock told reporters this week, via Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com.

I think Derek Carr had his best year yet, under Jon Gruden. I think he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and we couldn’t be happier with him,” he continued. “If you’re asking me about Derek, I think Jon and I would both stand shoulder to shoulder and pound the table for Derek Carr.

If you’ve followed the NFL for long enough you’ve probably gotten pretty good at parsing out what’s GM-speak and what’s real, and Mayock’s comments sounded pretty emphatic and borderline definitive. He definitely didn’t do the kiss of death hedge or the “he’s our quarterback right now” that have become so popular in recent years.

At this point it seems like if a Raiders quarterback is going to get traded it’ll be Marcus Mariota, not Carr. Mariota showed well during his brief appearance in place of an injured Carr late in the season, but although there was some interest at first those talks have reportedly cooled recently as well.

Chiefs’ Anthony Sherman Retires From NFL

A big part of these recent Andy Reid era Chiefs teams has been fullback Anthony Sherman, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be back in Kansas City in 2021. Sherman appeared to announce his retirement in a video he posted to Twitter.

In the brief video, Sherman thanked Kansas City and said it was “on to the next chapter,” using the hashtag ‘retirement.’ A fifth-round pick of the Cardinals back in 2011, Sherman spent his first two years in Arizona before getting traded to the Chiefs prior to the 2013 season. He spent the next eight years as Kansas City’s fullback, and only missed three total games in that span.

He never played a huge role on offense, usually only getting a handful of receptions and rushing attempts per season. But he was solid as a lead blocker and played a big role on special teams, even making the Pro Bowl in 2018.

He’ll wrap up his impressive ten-year career with 66 catches for 552 yards and four touchdowns, and 28 carries for 73 yards and another score. He of course won Super Bowl LIV with the team, and all of us here at PFR wish Sherman the best in retirement.

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Broncos GM On Von Miller, Drew Lock, Phillip Lindsay

George Paton is the Broncos’ new GM, and he’s got his work cut out for him during his first offseason at the helm. Several big decisions loom, including what to do with Von Miller and at quarterback. Speaking to the media Thursday, Paton got into all that and more.

We’ve heard that the Broncos are preparing to franchise tag safety Justin Simmons for the second year in a row, but it sounds like they really want to get an extension done. “Justin is one of our core guys. Our goal is to sign him to a long-term deal,” Paton said, via a tweet from Troy Renck of ABC Denver 7. Simmons seems to be on the same page, reiterating in a recent interview with Sirius XM NFL radio (Twitter link) that he wants to be with the Broncos for the future. “It seems like Denver wants me back, and I want to be there,” Simmons said in part.

As for Miller, he’s got an option that guarantees him significant money that needs to be picked up by March 16th. We’ve heard the team wants him to take a bit of a pay-cut to return in 2021, and Paton said that he’s still working through the details of the option with his agent. “We want to bring Von back. Obviously the legal process, it’s a serious situation. I don’t know all the details. But respect what’s going on. But we do want Von back.” Paton was referring of course to the legal investigation that stems from allegations made by his ex-fiancee. Even with that looming, it sounds like Paton wants to keep the franchise icon in the fold if the financials can work.

Phillip Lindsay is a restricted free agent since he’s a former UDFA, and Paton said the team wants him back as well. “Phillip’s a good player, very passionate. Obviously had some injuries last year. He’s a good player, brings energy, brings juice. He’s a restricted free agent, we do plan on tendering him. I’m not sure what level but we want Phillip here,” he said, via Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Klis writes that fellow restricted free agent receiver Tim Patrick is expected to get a second-round tender from the Broncos. That would pay him around $3.4MM in 2021. Patrick is coming off a career year where he had 746 yards and six touchdowns. If the team decides $3.4MM is too steep for Lindsay as a split-time running back, they’d tender him at the original-round level, which would mean a team signing him to an offer sheet wouldn’t have to give up any draft pick.

Finally, Paton also talked about the elephant in the room, Drew Lock and his job security. “Obviously did a deep dive with Drew. Very talented, was inconsistent at times. Has a lot to work on. I’ve spoken with Drew, he’s here every day. He’s here early. He really wants to be great,” Paton said, before adding we’re always going to try and bring in competition at every position and quarterback as well. But I like the track that Drew is on,” Klis tweets.

Those certainly don’t sound like the words of someone who’s committed to Lock as his 2021 starter. Things are up in the air, but we should continue to expect Denver to sniff around potential upgrades while having Lock as the fall-back option if nothing falls into their laps.

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Eagles Won’t Tender P Cameron Johnston

We’re going to see a lot of tough decisions being made over the next week, and the Eagles in particular have their hands tied due to a terrible cap situation. Because of their cap issues, Philly isn’t tendering restricted free agent punter Cameron Johnston, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). It’s a busy day for punters, as this news comes on the heels of the Saints releasing Thomas Morstead.

Johnston will now become an unrestricted free agent that’s free to sign anywhere without the Eagles having the chance to match an offer sheet. Rapoport says that Johnston “should have an active market.” A native of Australia, Johnston came to the United States to go to school at Ohio State after failing to make it as an Aussie Football player.

After getting cut in 2017 he made the roster in 2018, and has been the Eagles’ punter in each of the past three seasons. This move doesn’t mean that Philadelphia won’t still end up bringing him back for 2021, Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com tweets.

The Eagles can get their cap space under control and then re-sign Johnston, although now they’ll have to bid against an open market. Johnston has been very solid but not spectacular, so it’s not like he’s going to land an eye-popping deal in a tight free agent market.

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Seahawks Release Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon officially won’t be returning to the NFL with the Seahawks. Seattle has released the embattled wide receiver, as Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets.

It’s an expected move, especially after we heard last week that Gordon was planning on playing in the startup Fan Controlled Football League that’s affiliated with his close friend Johnny Manziel. Gordon is still only 29 and could theoretically always return to the NFL one day, but clearly Seattle doesn’t have any intention of waiting around any longer. Back in January, the league rescinded Gordon’s reinstatement and he’s now suspended indefinitely again.

Gordon appeared on the verge of taking the field for a while, and was activated to the roster by the Seahawks in December, but ultimately his personal issues got in the way once again. Of course, he never ended up playing in a game for Seattle in 2020. He played in six games with the Patriots and five with the Seahawks in 2019.

The team appeared committed to developing him into a new weapon for Russell Wilson at a low price, but it never worked out and included plenty of hiccups along the way. Never say never with Gordon, but it appears likely at this point that he’s played his final NFL down. It feels like a lifetime ago that he had his 1,646 yard and nine touchdown season with Cleveland back in 2013.

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Details On Ben Roethlisberger’s New Deal

We heard earlier Thursday that Ben Roethlisberger had come to an agreement with the Steelers, and now we have the details on the restructure.

Roethlisberger reduced his compensation from $19MM to $14MM for this season, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). He then spread the cash payment out into future seasons, saving the team about $15MM in cap space for this season in total. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network then tweeted the full breakdown. He’s getting a $12.925MM signing bonus, and a $1.075MM base salary for 2021.

As expected, the new pact has four voidable years that will void after this season, so it technically now runs through 2025 for cap purposes. The Steelers were in a bad cap spot, so they desperately needed this move to have any flexibility this offseason.

There had been a lot of discussion about whether it would simply be a restructure, or if Roethlisberger would take a drastic pay-cut, and in the end it wound up somewhere in between. After a whole lot of drama, the issues is officially put to rest, and Big Ben will be Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback for one more ride.

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Saints Cut Thomas Morstead

The Saints are cutting a long-time member of the team. New Orleans has released punter Thomas Morstead, Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football confirmed (Twitter link). The news was first reported by Nader Mirfiq (on Twitter).

The move frees up about $2.5MM in cap space. The team unusually kept UDFA rookie Blake Gillikin on the active roster at the beginning of last year before placing him on injured reserve, perhaps signaling they viewed him as the punter of the future. Morstead was more than just the team’s punter, he was also a leader in the locker room and fan favorite due to his long tenure and consistent performance.

Drafted by the Saints in the fifth-round all the way back in 2009, he’s been with them for the past 12 seasons. He’s never missed a game during that span, and he won Super Bowl XLIV with the team. Still only 34, he should have plenty left in the tank physically and should be able to find a new home.

The highest-paid punter in the game for a while, Morstead made the Pro Bowl in 2012 and was also a second-team All-Pro that year. On a zoom call with the media shortly after the news broke, Morstead confirmed he plans to play elsewhere and said last year’s drop in production was due to lingering injuries, Underhill tweets.

He also thanked the fans and Saints, saying “I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and thanks. … My whole experience with the organization has been outstanding,” via another tweet from Underhill.

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Lions To Release Desmond Trufant

The Lions have informed Desmond Trufant that he will be released, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Trufant — who served as a starting cornerback for Detroit — will be officially dropped on the first day of the league year later this month. 

[RELATED: Lions, WR Tyrell Williams Agree To Deal]

Trufant compiled four interceptions and seven passes defensed in 2019, despite being limited to only nine games. Still, the Falcons released him midway through his five-year, ~$69MM mega-deal.

That led him to the Lions last March on a more reasonable two-year, $21MM deal. Still, his Lions contract included $14MM in guarantees. So, with his release, the Lions will save $6MM while being left with roughly $6.2MM in dead money, provided that he isn’t classified as a post-June 1 release.

Trufant’s short Lions tenure ended early, due to injury. He finished out 2020 with one interception, four passes defended, and 20 total stops in six games.

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