Tag:2011 NFL draft
Posted on: July 28, 2011 2:32 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 11:15 pm
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2011 NFL Draft rookie contracts coming in

Posted by Will Brinson

There's been plenty of action in free agency thus far (don't forget to follow it all in our live, updating Experience and with our 2011 NFL Free Agency Tracker!), but it also warrants mentioning that there have been a good number of first-round draft picks signed by various teams over the past few days.

Interestingly, many of these players who are signing have received fully guaranteed contracts, something you don't typically see with rookies, even though the total contracts, because of the new rookie wage system, are coming in lower than previous years.

For instance, the Cowboys signed Tyson Smith, their top pick, likely right tackle for 2011 and eventual successor to Doug Free, to a four-year, $12.5 million deal which is entirely guaranteed. By contrast, C.J. Spiller, taken in the same spot last season by the Bills, received a five-year, $25 million deal with $20.5 million guaranteed.

The Bengals signed Georgia wideout A.J. Green to a four-year, $19.6 million deal, all of which is also guaranteed, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy. (Trent Williams, by contrast, got $60 million with $36.5 guaranteed out of the No. 4 slot from the Redskins in 2010.)

The 49ers reported via Twitter that they've signed all their draft picks, including second-round quarterback Colin Kaepernick (four-year deal) and first-round defensive end Aldon Smith. Financials haven't been put out yet.

The same goes for the Buccaneers, who signed first- and second-round picks Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers (deets on the monies aren't out yet last I checked).

In Denver, Von Miller is "expected" to sign a four-year, $21-million deal with the Broncos soon. He probably would have seen up to $50 million more (not all guaranteed, of course) under the old rookie salary system. The ironic part? He was a named plaintiff on the Brady v. NFL lawsuit. It's worth noting that Miller's not sweating losing any pile of money and says he "plans on getting three, four, five contracts."

[(UPDATED 4:47 p.m. ET): John Elway confirms the team has agreed to terms with Miller. Wrote Elway on his Twitter feed: "Can't wait to get him on the field."]

The final thing to remember as the first-year player contracts start to come in? There's a fifth-year team option built into these four-year deals, and that deal must be picked up by the end of the third year or else the amount owed balloons to an average of the top-10 salaries at the position.

If a player performs well in his first three seasons then, he stands to either get locked for a fifth year or find himself inked to a new contract sooner than he expected.

Everything's not all roses, though. Agent Jack Bechta writes at the National Football Post that some teams are utilizing dollars for later-round picks and allocating them towards first rounders. It's not happening often, at least right now, but Bechta cites it as a "disturbing trend" because it's something that could potentially create a false inflation system for first-round picks as agents try to get more money than the player drafted the previous year.

There's not telling how often that will happen going forward, but it's still a bit concerning as the rookies current wages are pushed back because of the new CBA.

On the bright side, if shifting salaries does happen, it's a lot less likely that JaMarcus Russell remains the biggest NFL Draft bust forever. So there's that.

UPDATED 7:48 p.m. ET: The Jaguars have announced that No. 10 overall pick, QB Blaine Gabbert, has signed his contract.

UPDATED 11:14 p.m. ET: No. 13 pick Nick Fairley has signed a four-year deal worth about $10 million with the Lions.

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Posted on: May 14, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 2:21 pm
 

Skins, Steelers had draft deal, but guy was gone

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATE (Monday, 11:00 AM): So, this is weird: the Redskins are saying now that Dan Snyder never appeared on Sirius. Which makes Wexell's tweet really odd. Read the anatomy of a rumor post right here.

The 2011 NFL Draft has come and gone, but here's an interesting little nugget about something that could have happened, involving a Redskins-Steelers trade for the No. 16 overall pick.

Per Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider, Dan Snyder, appearing on Sirius Radio this past week, said that Washington and Pittsburgh had a deal in place for the No. 16 overall pick, but "the player was gone."

As you probably recall, the Redskins traded down from 10th to 16th via a deal with Jacksonville where the Jaguars picked up Blaine Gabbert.

The logical guess is that the Steelers wanted Mike Pouncey, brother of their center, Maurkice Pouncey. Can we be sure though?

Well, not positive, but pretty close. Hopping in the not-so-way-back machine and taking a look at our Draft Tracker, we can pretty much reach that conclusion.

We have to make the assumption that the player in question was taken in between the 11th and 15th picks, as Washington had access to both the 10th and 16th picks and Pittsburgh didn't make a move.

Scratching the one quarterback taken in that range, Gabbert and Christian Ponder, off the list isn't a reach, considering that the Steelers still have Ben Roethlisberger.

J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn were both strong picks, but it seems unlikely that Pittsburgh would trade valuable assets for a defensive end in a year when there was depth at the position. Additionally, Cameron Heyward -- the guy they got -- fits their scheme nicely.

Nick Fairley could have been under consideration, as he would have represented outstanding value, but, I'm not so sure that what he does best would necessarily equate to making him the long-term answer at DT for Pittsburgh, assuming they don't make a scheme shift once (if??) Dick LeBeau retires.

And then there's this: many people thought the Dolphins would take Alabama running back Mark Ingram, but went with Pouncey right before the 'Skins 16th pick instead. So it seemed like Pouncey might be there at 16; clearly the Steelers are fans of that family, and wouldn't need to play him at center, as many teams felt they might.

And with their second-round pick, the Steelers nabbed Pouncey's linemate at Florida, Marcus Gilbert. That's not to say they loved the other Pouncey just because he's related to one of their players, or because he's from the same school.

And it's tough to guarantee that's what they were hoping for, but it sure does seem like a strong possibility.

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Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:09 am
Edited on: May 2, 2011 11:57 am
 

Vikings hoping Ponder can start Week 1

Posted by Will Brinson

The Minnesota Vikings shocked the world when they grabbed Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder

"Ideally, I'd like for him to be ready to go when we play San Diego (on Sept. 11)," Frazier said, per Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

But the building up of high expectations doesn't end there! Oh no: Frazier made some pretty hefty comparisons when it comes to young quarterbacks who stepped in and won right away.

"That would be the ideal situation -- we've got our Matt Ryan, we've got our (Joe) Flacco, we've got our (Mark) Sanchez right here. But because of the uncertainty of the offseason, it's just hard to determine exactly how you want to approach it. So, we need a little more clarity on what this offseason's going to be like."

This is pretty fascinating, because it was kind of always expected that the Vikings would just end up with Donovan McNabb. That's just because, um, well, I don't know -- they both had interest in one another and it seemed like a fit.
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Ponder getting drafted could still mean McNabb comes along, especially if the lockout lasts for a while and the coaching staff is unable to work with Ponder extensively before the seasons starts.

However, if they do get a chance to work with Ponder, and he gets enough reps before the season starts, it seems that Minnesota could be going all-in on their rookie, while also concerning themselves with getting the most out of a roster that doesn't have much time left on a window to make a run at the Super Bowl.

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Posted on: May 2, 2011 10:07 am
 

Ireland: Fins not 'desperate' for QB before draft

Posted by Will Brinson

Lots of teams did lots of things during this past week's draft in order to get a quarterback; most of the "things" were versions of reaching. The biggest moves by some teams, though, was no move at all.

The Miami Dolphins were one of those teams who did nothing, and it seemed odd, because they've done everything short of indicate that Chad Henne isn't capable of running their offense on a regular basis, from benching him for Chad Pennington and Tyler Thigpen, to expressing interest in every single QB available in the draft. And yet ... Jeff Ireland made it seem like the 'Fins weren't "desperate" for a signal caller.

"I think we'll have to look in free agency if we're going to do that," Ireland said, per Andrew Carter of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Certainly we'll look at all the quarterbacks in depth. The [draft] board didn't fall right for us to pick up a quarterback.

"I didn't feel like we were desperate for one and so we didn't adjust our board to try to go after one."

So the Dolphins interest in all the quarterbacks on the draft board was just a smokescreen now? And they'll just add a veteran? Come on.

Ireland's right about the draft board to some extent -- Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder were all gone by 15, and the only player who really seemed to be tied to Miami was Ryan Mallett.

Obviously they weren't that interested in him. (And the rumors that the Pats simply drafted Mallett to block him from going to Miami? Settle down, people -- Miami had plenty of chances to grab Mallett.)

Whatever, it looks like everyone in Miami is about as confused re: the quarterbacking situation with the Dolphins as everyone out of Miami. Although Henne should be pretty pumped, I guess. If things play out like they did after Tony Sparano was publicly embarrassed by his employer shopping elsewhere, then the Michigan QB could be in line for a big raise.

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Posted on: April 30, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 10:28 pm
 

2011 NFL Draft: Winners and losers

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- The grind of the NFL Draft -- and don't let anyone tell you otherwise, three days of straight picks is definitely a grind -- is finally over. Which means we should probably take our time to sit back and reflect on who did well and do not do well. Or, alternately, we can just start calling people names right ... now!



WINNERS
Atlanta Falcons: Been flopping on these guys all weekend long it feels like -- I like Julio Jones a lot, but I didn’t like all the picks the Falcons needed to get him. I do, however, freaking LOVE Jacquizz Rodgers. They got a steal when they landed a lot more offensive explosiveness in the seventh round. Couple that with a few more solid adds in Andrew Jackson, Akeem Dent and K/P Matt Bosher and it was a good haul for Thomas Dimitroff. Good enough to have me thinking about picking them to win it all. Again.

Peyton Manning: Not only is the best quarterback in the NFL going to get real paid as soon as we get a new CBA, but he’s going to have two new guys -- Anthony Castonzo and Benjamin Ijalana -- in town to help keep him healthy.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills started off their draft with a good blueprint: DEFENSE. And they stuck to that blueprint throughout the rest of the draft too, only diverting twice to pick up Chris Hairston from Clemson to beef up the offensive line and Johnny White for backfield depth and special teams. Da’Norris Searcy out of Chapel Hill could be a steal for them in the fourth.

Wade Phillips: Not that you expected the Texans to actually go out and get anyone that’s an an offensive player early in the draft, but did a great job with their first five picks, particularly in trading back up to grab Brandon Harris. Given all the limitations on that defense and the switch they have to make, it’s good for him to at least get a head start out of the draft.

Cleveland Browns: Giving up a top-10 selection when you’ve got a young quarterback that needs weapons is no easy move ... unless you’re getting five picks in return and turn those into serviceable offensive products and some defensive standouts. Buster Skrine’s value fell post-Combine but he could be a good find, Jason Pinkston out of Pittsburgh will help and already-physical offensive line. Phil Taylor/Jabaal Sheard immediately improve the defensive line and Greg Little and Jordan Cameron give Colt McCoy some guys with good hands and upside.

Ryan Mallett: My man Freeman thinks Bill Belichick might have taken too big a gamble, and there’s a good chance he might be right. But if Mallett goes anywhere else, you would have heard everyone saying that about the GM that grabbed him. (Can you imagine the reaction if Carolina took him or, dare I say, the Bengals?) The pressure of falling in the draft because of character issues and having to play/perform well at an early time is lifted with his move.

Green Bay Packers: Not that it’s hard to “win” if you’re Green Bay, coming off a Super Bowl-winning season and sitting on a young, stacked roster. But “In Ted We Trust” applies here, because Thompson beefed up the Packers’ offensive line depth, got a superb second-rounder in Randall Cobb to potentially replace and just generally marked everything he needed off his checklist. Standard Packers draft, really.

Arizona Cardinals: They had a good first two days nabbing Patrick Peterson and Ryan Williams and then fared quite well in the later rounds, particularly with their selection of Quan Sturdivant, a pretty stupendous value in the sixth round. Some would argue they didn’t address their QB need and that’s fair, but they’ll be the leaders in the clubhouse for a veteran or a Kevin Kolb trade.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The rich get richer, per usual. Cameron Heyward is the future at defensive end, Marcus Gilbert -- a reliable offensive lineman -- is exactly what the Steelers need, and the Steelers stepped up and addressed their cornerback issues early on Day 3 of the draft by grabbing Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen.

America: For awesomeness’ sake, I’m going to hold out eternal hope that the Chiefs win the Super Bowl, Ricky Stanzi ends up shirtless in a downtown BBQ joint with an American flag as a cape, holding a huge turkey leg while belting out the “Star Spangled Banner” in celebration and this scene makes its way onto YouTube. America needs that.



LOSERS
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers were a classic example of how trading early-round picks and finding yourself extremely weak at certain positions can kill you: in a draft with ridiculous defensive line depth, they still couldn’t add to a weak position until the third round when they picked up a pair of undersized defensive tackles in Terrell McClain and Sione Fua. Kealoha Pilares was a good grab at the top of the fifth, though. And, of course, they were essentially forced to take Cam Newton at the top spot. If he busts, this draft is a total nightmare. It might even be a situation of Carolina just taking their medicine in the best-case anyway.

Carson Palmer: Marvin Lewis says the Bengals have “moved on” for Palmer too; you gotta think they’ll try and trade him just to get something in return, but it’s shame because the best scenario for him might actually be returning to the ‘Nati and helping to bring A.J. Green and Stanford product Ryan Whalen into the fold of Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley. Those are nicer weapons than he’ll find in retirement.

Jacksonville Jaguars: I think Blaine Gabbert will end up being pretty good. If he’s great, this ranking could change, but if Jack Del Rio’s job is on the line, how does he not convince Gene Smith to go out and get him some freaking secondary help before fourth round? (Caveat: Smith has killed drafts since he got to J-Vegas, so if he thinks Gabbert’s “the guy” going forward, more power to him.)

Ronnie Brown: There was some talk Brown might stick with the Dolphins even after they took Daniel Thomas out of K-State in the second round. Nabbing Charles Clay -- even if he’s a fullback -- probably means Brown is done with the ‘Fins. (And it might also mean they’re not as set on paying DeAngelo Williams whatever he wants too.)

Washington Redskins: All weekend long, the Redskins looked like winners as they kept avoiding making huge mistakes by trading down and piling up picks. But did they really end up getting anything of substantial value for it? Leonard Hankerson could be a nice pull in the third round, certainly, but for all the Redskins’ surprising patience, they didn’t once address their (very serious) quarterback issue or linebacker issue.

Reggie Bush: Sean Payton’s saying that he’s open to Bush coming back. That might be true. And it might not be true. But what he’s not doing is making a dumb, knee-jerk reaction on Twitter simply because his team drafted Mark Ingram. Which is what Bush did and it’s not going to help him in the short or long term.

Denver Broncos: The Broncos accumulated a lot of picks, and added a linebacker trio that could be dominant in a few years (Von Miller as the pass rusher, Nate Irving as the tackler and Virgil Green as the cover guy). But two tight ends and not a single defensive lineman? Did someone show John Elway the wrong depth chart before this thing kicked off on Thursday?

Oakland Raiders: Al Davis didn’t have a first-rounder, so it’s okay to temper expectations a little bit, but Al really isn’t going to stop over-drafting athleticism until the day he dies. And considering how hot it was in Radio City Music Hall when they played “California Girls” for the second time on Saturday, I can’t imagine hell’s freezing over any time soon.

David Akers: With the Eagles’ decision to reach up into the fourth round and grab Alex Henery out of Nebraska, as well as the fact that Akers wasn’t happy about his transition tag, it’s pretty obvious that the incumbent kicker’s days as a Philly legend are numbered. (You could also add Henery as a loser here, too: having to come in and kick in front of Eagles’ fans sounds worse than listening to drunk Jets’ fans boo everything for eight-straight hours.)

Seattle Seahawks: Maybe Pete Carroll’s drafts are just too “zany” for me to understand, but the James Carpenter pick strikes me as possibly the biggest reach of the first round, maybe even ahead of Jake Locker and Christian Ponder. Unless bring Matt Hasselbeck back or land another veteran QB in the offseason, it’s almost impossible to imagine them sniffing the playoffs again.

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Posted on: April 30, 2011 12:26 am
 

Top five intriguing storylines from Friday

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

NEW YORK – Three rounds are done. We have four to go. Here are the most intriguing storylines for the second day of the NFL draft extravaganza.

1. Ryan Mallett fell how far … and who picked him?:
I wonder how fast Mallett’s mood changed when the Patriots took him midway through the third round. He must have gone from hurt and humiliated to not caring about what anybody else thinks. He knows he’s going to a winning program where he’ll have no pressure on him to produce immediately and where he can learn from one of the best QBs of all time. All of a sudden, life is good again for Mallett.

2. Da’Quan Bowers: third-best pro prospect out of Clemson: Before the NFL combine, what kind of odds could you have gotten if you wagered that former Clemson DE Jarvis Jenkins and former Tigers DB Marcus Gilchrist would be drafted BEFORE Bowers? You could have made millions, I tell you. Millions. Except Jenkins and Gilchrist don’t have a bad knee that might need microfracture surgery. Bowers does.

3. 49ers have a bridge to sell you … if you’ll get them a quarterback: Word on the street was that San Francisco was looking to draft Andy Dalton or Colin Kaepernick, and when the Bengals took Dalton at No. 35, the 49ers – who were picking 10 spots later – had to see which teams in front of them might also need a QB. Arizona for one, and Washington for another. So, they traded up to Denver’s No. 36 spot and gave up a third-, fourth- and fifth-rounder in exchange. It was actually a pretty deft maneuver to get the guy they wanted.

4. Washington has a TON of draft picks Saturday:
At one point, it seemed that the Redskins would never make a pick, because they kept trading down in the draft. They managed to select a player in the first, second and third rounds, and Saturday, they’ll select one fourth-rounder, four fifth-rounders, one sixth-rounder and four seventh-rounders. Unless, of course, the Redskins start trading for 2012 picks.

5. Lockout returns: There was no mention made of this during the draft – and really, why would there be? – but the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the NFL a temporary reprieve and reestablished the lockout midway through the second round tonight. Which means that the new draft picks won’t get to start learning their new teams’ schemes, and they join the ranks of the rest of the NFL players who are locked out and not getting paid. Welcome to the league, boys!

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 8:11 pm
 

Tampa stops Da'Quan Bowers' freefall at 51

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- Da'Quan Bowers very nearly got drafted by the Carolina Panthers ... in the second round. Okay, that's just speculation, but for a guy who was considered a possibility for the top-overall pick just a few months ago, for him to fall all the way to Tampa Bay with the 51st pick on the second round was a shock.

Or not, if you've heard all the reports about Bowers' knee, which may or may not be made of scrambled eggs.

The secret, though, is that Tampa and GM Mark Dominik took a gamble here and it's one that's not hard to like. Bowers is an elite talent with medical problems, but those type of players abound in the NFL. And the Buccaneers just paired him with a trio of early-round picks in Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and Adrian Clayborn.

If Tampa being heavily invested in their defensive line sounds familiar, well, it should: when they won the Super Bowl, they had a couple of guys (Warren Sapp, you may have heard of) who could wreck shop in the front seven.

If the Bowers gamble pays off, they'll find themselves in a similar position again soon, which won't make Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Drew Brees too happy.

And if it doesn't pay off, well, it's not like Tampa burned a bunch of guaranteed money with an early-round selection; the upside with Bowers at this point is absolutely worth it.

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 3:25 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Amukamara happy, but stunned to play for NYG

P. Amukamara was surprised to see New York take him in the draft (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

NEW YORK – Prince Amukamara, the Giants newest CB, stood at a podium on the fifth floor of the W Hotel at Times Square on Friday morning, and he looked dazed. Like he was in the middle of a dream and hadn’t quite woken up yet. Like his eyes hadn’t stopped REM’ing quite yet.

Then, as if on cue, his phone began to buzz, and as he reached into his pocket to silence the noise, he pointed out, “That was my alarm.”

He didn’t need it this morning, because, in reality, he didn’t get much sleep last night.

“The adrenalin still hasn’t slowed down,” he said. “It’s just too hard to fathom right now.”

Hard to fathom because he had no idea the Giants were interested in taking him, and the Giants – who had the 19th pick – had no idea Amukamara would have fallen that far. But he was there, and the Giants thought he was the best player on the board they could take. In fact, Giants scouting director Marc Ross said he was shocked Amukamara was still there. Shocked, I tell you!

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“I heard the (fans) chanting, “We want Prince. We want Prince,’” Amukamara said. “I still didn’t think I was going to go here, because I hadn’t talked to anybody with the Giants. But that’s how the draft game works. It’s pretty tricky like that.

“It’s very odd, but coach (Tom) Coughlin, when he called me, seemed like a great guy and a great coach. I heard he’s pretty stern and doesn’t like to joke around a lot. I can get used to it, but I think my personality will probably loosen him up a little bit.”

And if Amukamara actually believes that last part, he really is still dreaming.

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