July 5th: Tightend Preview
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Minnesota Vikings safety Anthony Harris wasn't expected to reach a deal before the franchise-tag deadline on Wednesday, so he becomes another example of a player set to finish out the 2020 season on the franchise tag. NFL teams were more reluctant this year to hand out long-term extensions to franchise-tagged players with the 2021 salary cap in flux due to the coronavirus pandemic. Harris will play for $11.4 million this year, and he and the Vikings still have a good chance at working something out long-term next offseason. The 28-year-old had a career year last season, compiling 35 solo tackles while tying for the NFL lead with six interceptions. Before 2019, though, he had just three interceptions in four seasons, making him unattractive in IDP formats.
The Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott were involved in last-minute negotiations before the deadline on Wednesday to sign franchise-tagged players to deals, according to sources. The deal was for between $33-35 million annually, with $110 million guaranteed. Nothing came to fruition, so Prescott will make $31.4 million under the tag in 2020, with the two sides likely returning to the negotiating table next spring. They'll also have the option to franchise tag him again in 2021 for $37.69 million. Prescott reportedly turned down around $100 million in guarantees. He's betting on himself again this year to prove he's one of the top signal-callers in the league behind Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. Prescott should be considered a midrange QB1 with plenty of upside in Dallas' explosive offense.
Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake, who had the transition tag placed on him, isn't close to a long-term deal with the team, but he said that he's not too concerned with a contract extension right now. "Thatll come in due time. Right now Im focused on everyday getting in the best shape of my life to help this team play winning football," Drake wrote. The former Miami Dolphin has already signed his tag ($8.4 million) and can continue negotiating with the Cardinals until July 22. Arizona will have exclusive negotiating rights on Drake through Week 10. Everyone expects the 26-year-old to have a big year in 2020 in an offense on the rise, especially after he dominated in the desert after being traded from Miami in 2019. Drake should be considered a top-10 fantasy back with a potential breakout on the horizon.
The Tennessee Titans and running back Derrick Henry agreed to a four-year deal worth $50 million on Wednesday, according to a source. Two years will basically be guaranteed. Henry capitalized after winning the NFL's rushing title in 2019 with 1,540 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 303 carries. The bruising downhill runner is a perfect fit in Tennessee's run-first offense and will be a first-round pick as an RB1 in 2020 drafts, but he might be one of the more volatile high-end running backs because of his lack of involvement in the passing game with just 18 receptions in 2019 and 57 total in his four seasons with the Titans.
A source reported that everything is "all quiet" on the front for New England Patriots offensive guard Joe Thuney on Wednesday, the deadline for the two sides to work out a long-term contract extension. He is likely to play under the franchise tag this season, which will pay him $14.78 million. Thuney has been one of the best interior offensive lineman since he entered the league as the No. 78 overall pick in 2016. He's also been able to stay healthy and start every game for the Patriots. His presence on the offensive line will help New England as they transition to life after Tom Brady.
The Cleveland Browns are finalizing a five-year contract extension with star pass-rusher Myles Garrett worth $125 million, according to a league source. The deal will be worth a total of $144 million over seven years, which would make Garrett the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league. The 24-year-old is expected to sign the deal as early as Wednesday after passing a physical. Garrett was the No. 1 pick out of Texas A&M in 2017 and had 10 sacks in 10 games last year before he was suspended for the final six games for hitting Steelers QB Mason Rudolph with his own helmet on Nov. 14. He's absolutely worth targeting in IDP leagues, as he ranks fourth in sacks per game (0.82) since 2017.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have received multiple offers for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, including one involving a Pro Bowl player that doesn't fit their system, but it hasn't been enough value for them to deal a player of Ngakoue's caliber, according to sources. Teams have been told that the pass-rusher would play on the $17.788 million franchise tender, but the Jaguars are in no rush to trade him despite his wishes to play elsewhere. Ngakoue has been flexible about playing on the tag in another city, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made any long-term deals very challenging. If nothing is worked out, Ngakoue will play for the Jags under the tag in 2020. The 25-year-old has become one of the best young pass-rushers in the league and is definitely in play in IDP formats.
Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills was arrested on Tuesday night and charged with felony intimidating participant in a legal process, misdemeanor disorderly conduct and criminal trespass for peaceful protest outside of the home of Attorney General Daniel Cameron. The protest was demanding action for Breonna Taylor's case. This will become a situation to watch to see if Stills is disciplined at all by the NFL, but it seems unlikely. Stills has familiarity with Houston's offense, but it's tough to predict his current role with Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller V and Randall Cobb all in the picture. But he should see playing time with DeAndre Hopkins out of town. He just won't have much upside unless injuries ahead of him thrust him into a prominent starting role.
The Kansas City Chiefs signed defensive tackle Chris Jones to a four-year contract extension worth up to $85 million on Tuesday. It comes after the Chiefs signed superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes for 12 years and $503 million. If a long-term deal hadn't been reached between the Chiefs and Jones by Wednesday, July 15, Jones would've had to play the 2020 season on the franchise tag. Kansas City is now the only team in the NFL with three contract with at least $60 million in guarantees. Opposing QBs had a 32 QBR against the Chiefs when Jones was in the game and a 59 QBR when he wasn't. He's 26 years old and in his prime after recording 24.5 sacks in the last two seasons with the Chiefs.
Washington Football Team wide receiver Kelvin Harmon suffered a torn ACL while training on his own prior to camp. The former sixth-round pick, who had developed a bit of hype heading into the season after his 30-catch rookie season, will now be out for all of 2020 and will set his sights to 2021. He may be a sneaky throw-in target for any dynasty trades, but is of course off the radar in redraft formats.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is unlikely to sign a deal with the team ahead of the franchise tag deadline, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. Green was franchise tagged by Cincinnati earlier in the offseason but it is unlikely he plays on a new contract barring "a final-hour, surprise push." Green has technically not actually signed his franchise tag but he is fully expected to play on it this season. The veteran star wideout is primed for a big bounce-back this season, provided he can stay healthy. That, however, is a bit of a question as he has appeared in just nine of a possible 32 games over the past two seasons. If healthy, Green can be treated as an upside WR2 in fantasy drafts.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is not expected to agree to a long-term deal with the team before this afternoon's deadline. Prescott will play under the franchise tag this season, becoming the third quarterback to play under the tag (along with Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees). Prescott will earn $31.4 million this year before attempting negotiations again at a later date. Reports have stated that Prescott has turned down close to $100 million in guaranteed money. If he and the Cowboys can't agree to a deal next year, they'll have the option to tag him again for $37.69 million, but the two sides will likely try to work things out again before then.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is still without a new contract and will not report to the team until a deal is done. With Cook having issues remaining healthy over the years, the team's personnel are still at a crossroads regarding his future with the organization moving ahead. The 24-year-old had a breakout season in 2019 and finished with 1,135 yards on the ground and 13 rushing touchdowns. Cook's presence also contributed toward quarterback Kirk Cousins 69.1 completion percentage as he was featured heavily in the team's passing attack. Nonetheless, unless an agreement is made between the two sides, fantasy managers will be taking a risk by opting to use a first-round draft selection on him.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara was featured in a workout video posted on social media by Dr. Sharif Tabbah of Athletix Rehab and Recovery, a facility located in Miami, Florida. This isn't the first video that Kamara has been highlighted in over the last few months, and it's a good sign that he is back on track after battling ankle, knee, and back injuries throughout 2019. Even with his nagging ailments, the 24-year-old still had a decent season despite taking a step back in several statistical categories. Though his preseason ranking has him behind Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Derrick Henry (in most cases), he has a legitimate shot of exceeding expectations. The Saints also have one of the best offensive lines in the league, and with Drew Brees back under center, Kamara could make some noise on the fantasy end.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (foot) is "almost certain to start" the season on the PUP list according to Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said that Jeffery still does not have a set timetable for a return, and with time running out before training camp starts, Jeffery is almost a sure thing to be at best working off to the side. It remains to be seen if he will recover quickly enough to be ready at the start of the season, but if he does indeed land on the PUP list, he'll miss at least six games. Jeffery has been hyped up to have a big role this season, but if he misses that many games and the Eagles offense works well with DeSean Jackson and their rookies starting at wide receiver, Jeffery could find himself without much playing time even if healthy.
The Philadelphia Eagles re-signed offensive lineman Jason Peters to bolster their already formidable line. The nine-time Pro Bowler has been the team's left tackle since 2009, but will reportedly play guard under his new one-year contract. The Eagles seemed comfortable letting Peters walk as they have 2019 first-round pick, Andre Dillard, to protect Carson Wentz's blindside. However, right guard Brandon Brooks (Achilles) suffered a season-ending injury so Philadelphia turned to an old friend to fill the void on the right side. Peters will now play between fellow Pro-Bowlers Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce giving the Eagles arguably the best offensive line in the league which is good news for Wentz and second-year running back Miles Sanders.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry is unlikely to strike a long-term deal by the franchise tag deadline Wednesday, July 15, according to a source. He's scheduled to make $10.27 million and become a free agent next offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Henry is a stud RB1 in fantasy, but he suffers in PPR formats and may drop closer to a midrange RB1.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is the top-ranked wideout on Sports Illustrated's Big Board for the upcoming campaign. Thomas finished 2019 miles ahead of the No. 2 receiver in all formats. While contributor Bill Enright doesn't foresee another record-breaking season for the 27-year-old, he expects him to lead the league once again in many statistical categories. Thomas will hopefully be catching passes from Drew Brees for an entire 16-game stretch in 2020, with the future hall of fame signal-caller also having the luxury of playing behind one of the most efficient offensive lines in the league.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley could be the league's leading rusher this season, according to Bleacher Report's Maurice Moton. Barkley is predicted to run for nearly 1,500 yards and could benefit immensely from the arrival of former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. The 23-year-old struggled in 2019 after dealing with a high-ankle sprain that cost him three games. He still managed to exceed 1,000 yards on the ground but took a step back in scoring production. If Barkley can remain healthy in 2020 and the offensive line holds up, the former Nittany Lion could be in store for his best campaign to date. Though Christian McCaffrey is the consensus No. 1 overall back in fantasy rankings, the case could be made for Barkley to be selected ahead of him.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and the team have no scheduled talks ahead of Wednesday's deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign contract extensions. Things can change with a quick phone call, but there has not been urgency to get a deal done. It has been reported the Cowboys offered Prescott a five-year deal, but Prescott's side would prefer a four-year deal with options. Prescott is scheduled to make $31.4 million under the tag this season, but may look elsewhere if he is allowed to test the market next winter. Prescott would be just the third quarterback to play a season under the franchise tag and the previous two- Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins- signed with different teams after their seasons. Prescott's dynasty value would be less certain without a guarantee of playing in Dallas's high-octane offense.
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